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American Dream Grant

Jennifer Gutierrez pegged Northwest as her “dream school” after connecting with representatives of the University at a college fair in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, and – with the help of the American Dream Grant, which covers 100 percent of tuition and fees for eligible students – her dream became a reality.

Northwest launched its American Dream Grant program in 2004 as a need-based financial aid initiative to assist undergraduate students who might otherwise find a college education beyond their financial reach. Today, the American Dream Grant covers 100 percent of tuition and fees for Pell-eligible students.

To qualify for the American Dream Grant, a student must be eligible for the federal Pell grant. Missouri students must score at least 18 on the ACT and earn at least a 2.5 high school grade-point average. Out-of-state students must meet eligibility requirements for Northwest’s Bearcat Advantage scholarship to qualify for the American Dream Grant.

Prospective Northwest students apply for the American Dream Grant by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which removes other barriers students and their families may encounter when they are required to complete additional applications.

For Gutierrez, who graduated from Northwest in 2021 with bachelor's degrees in human services and political science, the American Dream Grant helped her fulfill her dream of completing a college degree while alleviating the stress of completing loan applications and other hardships for her parents. Gutierrez’s mother and father emigrated from Mexico at the ages of 20 and were crop workers in California before settling in Omaha where they found opportunities. Her father became a culinary chef and her mother a stay-at-home mom.  

At Northwest, Gutierrez participated in the TRIO program and drew inspiration to work hard toward her degree through the sacrifices her parents made for her.

“They never got the opportunity to go to college, so they’ve dedicated their lives to making sure I get the opportunities that they didn’t receive,” she said. “They had to grow up so fast because they were immigrants and didn’t have as many opportunities as I did being born here.”

Program Description Who is Eligible? Amount of Award How to Apply

American Dream Grant

  • Based on need
  • First-time freshmen
  • Complete FAFSA and all verification documents by Feb. 1 (priority filing date)
  • Be Pell Grant eligible
  • Missouri Resident: ACT 18-36 and 2.50 GPA
  • Non-Missouri resident must be eligible for Bearcat Advantage
  • Varies 
  • Will fill gap between cost of tuition and standard fees minus all federal, state, institutional funds
  • Awards subject to available funding
  • Summer funding not available 
Renewable for four years with the following stipulations:
  • Reapplication of FAFSA by Feb. 1 for consideration of state grants used in determining American Dream funding
  • Be Pell Grant eligible 
  • Completion of 24 Northwest credit hours
  • 2.00 Northwest cumulative GPA for Missouri residents
  • 3.00 Northwest cumulative GPA for non-Missouri residents
  • Combination of federal, state, and institutional grants and scholarship plus American Dream Grant covers regular tuition and standard fees