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Story by Deb Seminary, contributing writer

*Some details have changed since this article was published. For the most up-to-date information, visit the North University System's website

As college-bound seniors navigate their last year of high school, one of the things on their to-do list is probably 'apply for scholarships.' North Dakota has done a great job providing scholarship opportunities to help students attain an affordable degree in North Dakota colleges and universities, and the North Dakota University System (NDUS) website lists all of these programs. There are many scholarships, grants, reciprocity, and student exchange programs available.

The North Dakota Academic Scholarship and ND Career and Technical Education (CTE) Scholarship may be the programs most students and parents are familiar with. These are $6,000 merit-based scholarships that students can qualify for by having a 3.0 grade average, meeting testing requirements, and meeting additional course requirements above and beyond what is required for graduation.

“It is a short list of requirements, but they are not easy scholarships to get,” said Jim Upgren, assistant director with DPI’s Office of School Approval and Opportunity. “They are something all students can work towards and demonstrate proficiency. It is a good opportunity for students.”

Upgren noted that the scholarship requirements are changing, as they will align with the Choice Ready initiative. The Class of 2025 (current freshmen) will need to follow the new requirements.

Another change was made during the last legislative session that recognizes not all seniors want to go to a two- or four-year institution. It supports the reality that 60 percent of new jobs require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree.

“Students can now use the scholarship to attend a career and trades school,” explained Upgren. “Not only are we helping more kids, but it is important to promote the fact that those trade schools are valuable, too.”

Currently 22 to 24 percent of graduates qualify for this scholarship. High school seniors, as long as they meet requirements, can start applying in January 2022. The application deadline is June 3, 2022.

The N.D. Indian Scholarship offers enrolled members of federally recognized Indian tribes up to $2,000 annually, $12,000 total.

“Funding is based on the number of applicants we receive,” said Alexandria Bauer, financial aid assistant with NDUS. “Students can be an undergraduate or graduate student, in med school, law school, or pharmacy.”

Bauer stressed that filling out the FAFSA (free application for financial student aid) before applying (for the ND Indian Scholarship) speeds up the application process. It is important to submit the application before the priority deadline date of July 15, 2022, and the online application for 2022-2023 becomes available in April, so applicants have three months to fill it out.

The North Dakota Scholars Program is a merit-based, full-tuition scholarship that students may use at North Dakota’s public, tribal, or private institutions, provided the colleges have programs of study at least two years in length.

High school students who score at or above the 95th percentile among those who took the ACT or SAT prior to July 1 in the calendar year preceding the individual’s enrollment in college will be considered for the award. It is important to note that funding is not guaranteed, and it is based on tuition and the amount funded by the past session of the North Dakota Legislature.

There are more opportunities listed here, so be sure and do your homework when searching for financial aid sources.

For more information on the Academic, CTE, or North Dakota Scholarships, contact Jim Upgren at 701-328-2244, or email him at jimupgren@nd.gov. For information on the N.D. Indian Scholarship, N.D. Scholars Program, or other opportunities listed, please email NDUS at ndfinaid@ndus.edu, or call 701-328-2964.

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