Every student is “college material.” This core belief is the driving idea behind the Office of Higher Education's new program called Direct Admissions. This pilot program will notify graduating high school seniors from selected Minnesota high schools that there are multiple partner colleges and universities that are eager to admit them based on their academic records and their projected graduation date. This program will allow students to apply with confidence, knowing that the "will I get in?" question has already been answered with a "YES!"
Early in the school year, seniors at participating high schools who are on track to graduate will receive personalized communication, co-signed by their high school and the Office of Higher Education, that lists all participating Minnesota colleges and universities they are proactively admitted to. Students must then complete a FREE admissions application for each of the colleges and universities they are interested in attending. All participating colleges and universities are waiving application fees as part of the Direct Admissions program.
Although students have received “direct admission” to the institutions on their list, they still must submit applications to their colleges and universities according to their application deadlines. Some schools may require additional materials, such as essays and standardized test scores. Students are encouraged to conduct their own research, visit the institutions’ website and/or campus, look into majors and programs, and consider tuition costs and financial aid options.
Students’ applications will be processed according to the timeline indicated by each college or university’s website. Students will receive an official acceptance letter after they have submitted their application. Students can contact the institution directly with questions about the status of application.
There are over 50 Minnesota colleges and universities participating in the Direct Admissions program, including a full range of community, technical, tribal, public and private institutions. Click here for a full list of participating colleges and universities.
If students are interested in postsecondary institutions that are not on their personalized list, they will want to follow the standard application process for the schools they are interested in.
We strongly encourage all students to apply for financial aid through the Free Application for Financial Aid which is used to determine eligibility for both federal and state financial aid programs. The federal Pell Grant and the Minnesota State Grant provide grants to more than 120,000 students each year. Half of all students who apply receive a Pell Grant or Minnesota State Grant. Grants are based on the cost of the college chosen, family size, and income.
Currently, significant disparities in educational attainment exist for Minnesota's Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. These disparities occur throughout the education pathway. Direct Admissions Minnesota has great potential to reduce equity gaps by providing important college-going information to high school students, and eliminating the need for extensive college-going knowledge to navigate the college admissions process.
This pilot program aims to reduce self-selection bias and reduce equity gaps in college enrollment using four strategies:
For more information, please contact:
Coordinator of Direct Admissions Minnesota
Assistant Commissioner for Programs, Policy, and Grants
Direct Admissions Minnesota is a partnership project between K-12 and higher education, led by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. The program was made possible with funding by the Minnesota Legislature during the 2021 legislative session.
The Office of Higher Education implemented Direct Admissions Minnesota during the 2022-2023 academic year. The first group of seniors received letters in fall of 2022. During Spring of 2022, the project focused on establishing a pilot program with a limited number of high schools and districts to assess the work required for participating schools, funding requirements, and technology needs.
This type of program has worked successfully in other states. Direct Admissions was first implemented by Idaho in 2016. The program was successful in reversing declining postsecondary enrollments and reducing out-of-state migration. In addition to Idaho, South Dakota began proactive admissions for the high school class of 2018 (South Dakota Department of Education, 2019). In 2019, Illinois passed legislation to develop a pilot program for the 2020-2021 academic year to automatically admit high-performing Illinois high school graduates to targeted four-year public colleges.
Results for Idaho demonstrate that the program increases the number of students applying for and enrolling at both two-year and four-year colleges immediately after high school, both overall and within the state. Delaney et al. (2019) found that Idaho's implementation of direct admissions was associated with a statistically significant increase in undergraduate enrollment of 11.0% at the institutional level, as well as institutional increases in in-state enrollment between 11.1% to 16.3%. Similarly, direct admissions was associated with a statistically-significant, statewide increase in full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment of 11.3%.
Delaney, J., González Canché, M., and Odle, T. (2018).Direct Admissions, Investigating a low cost promising policy innovation to increase college access & equity. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, The Forum on the Future of Public Education. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
Howell, C., Mehl, A., Pennington, J., Pontius, J., & Kock, S. (2019). Using SLDS data to support college admissions. Boise, ID: Idaho State Board of Education. Retrieved January 18, 2022.