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Mathern proposes 'Dakota Promise' for ND college students

Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo)
North Dakota Legislative Council
Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo)

A Democratic lawmaker from Fargo has come up with a proposal to help meet the challenge of the new Minnesota “North Star Promise” program, that promises free tuition for Minnesotans who attend college in that state.

Under "North Star," families who earn $80,000 a year or less would be eligible for the free tuition. And that has some North Dakota Higher Education officials concerned, because some of the colleges and universities have significant populations of Minnesota students.

"The best way to address North Dakota's needs is to retain people," said Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Fargo). "Retain our students, retain our citizens, retain the other students that come from around the world."

Mathern calls his proposal “Dakota Promise.”

"There are two ways outlined in my proposal, Mathern said. "One is a loan program, where a student could take out a loan from the Bank of North Dakota, for all of their tuition, and for each year they are employed in North Dakota, their loan is forgiven."

Mathern said this would complement other higher-ed grant programs in North Dakota. And he said the second part would involve the business community.

"We would provide an income tax credit to the company for the tuition they pay for their employees to attend one of our colleges and universities," Mathern said. "So it's a dual attack."

Mathern said the initial price tag would be about $8 million in the first year, which would begin for the fall 2025 semester.

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