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Saturday, June 15, 2024

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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

New digital tool emerges to help MN students with FAFSA woes

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024   

The effect of technical glitches in overhauling the student financial-aid form known as FAFSA is still being felt.

Issues stemming from a redesign of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid have left families scrambling to secure loans, grants and scholarships before sending their kids off to college in the fall.

A Minnesota nonprofit reminded college students tuition aid is still available and its new digital tool can help with the process.

Mike Dean, executive director of the nonprofit North Star Prosperity, said even as the kinks are sorted out, FAFSA completion in Minnesota is down 16%. His group partnered with a national organization to develop an online tool to serve as a go-between.

"It essentially is an AI-powered FAFSA adviser that can be available 24/7, to answer almost all of your questions around the FAFSA," Dean explained.

He encouraged graduating high school students and their families still figuring out college plans to give the platform, named Wyatt, a try. A lot of decisions are often made by early May but Minnesota's deadline for accessing aid this coming school year is June 30, 2025. Funds are provided retroactively but officials emphasized it is still better to take action now.

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education stressed applying now to figure out which types of aid you qualify for helps you make a more informed decision about enrollment. Dean agreed, pointing out in Minnesota, students from income-eligible households can now have all their tuition costs covered.

"If you're a family with income below $80,000, college is now free in Minnesota, but it's only free if you complete that FAFSA form," Dean added.

The free tuition program was adopted by the state last year. Dean contended it should help break down barriers in the pursuit of higher education in Minnesota without the burden of student debt. For those skeptical about Wyatt being an AI driven tool, he emphasized it was developed by FAFSA experts, ensuring accuracy in the answers it provides.

Disclosure: North Star Prosperity contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, and Consumer Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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