A broken promise

The University is making huge cuts to its U Promise scholarship program.

The University of Minnesota currently offers free tuition to Pell Grant-eligible Minnesota residents through its U Promise scholarship program. Starting next fall, the University will significantly cut this program, a decision that will exclusively hurt the most vulnerable students.

The University plans to reduce the maximum award by more than half, from $8,000 to $3,500. The new maximum will cover less than one-third of annual in-state tuition.

Even students who qualify for the maximum Pell Grant award, $5,550, and the maximum U Promise scholarship will still fall more than $2,000 short of tuition. But they will also be responsible for expenses like housing and food. These students with the least ability to pay for college will still fall around $12,500 short of the UniversityâÄôs official estimated cost of attendance.

Kris Wright, the director of the Office of Student Finance, said that “pressures not to increase tuition” are in part responsible for the decision to cut the U Promise scholarship program so substantially.

However, cutting the U Promise program is even worse than raising tuition. At least with tuition hikes, the most vulnerable students can have a modicum of protection from the hike if the University offsets the tuition increase with an increase in financial aid.

The decision to cut this program is in effect a tuition hike that only applies to those least able to bear one.

The University is cutting funding to the U Promise program simply so it can say it didnâÄôt raise tuition, even though its solution will have even worse effects. Yet again, the University is concerning itself with superficial cover-ups rather than actually making education affordable.