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Minnesota Pilot Project Offers Free Ride To Technical College

It started out as an ambitious proposal: Make community college free.

Instead, Minnesota lawmakers settled on something markedly less expensive. Starting next year, the state will offer a free ride to an estimated 1,600 students in high-demand technical college programs as part of a two-year pilot project.

The program, with a price tag of $8.5 million, was included in the higher education bill signed by Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday.

The details are still to be worked out, according to Larry Pogemiller, Minnesota’s Commissioner of Higher Education. But basically, it’s designed to pay tuition and fees for recent high school graduates who enroll in job-skills training programs at public two-year colleges — which cost, on average, more than $5,300 a year.