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“A college for the community,” Dougherty family college at the University of St Thomas offers an affordable private college option

It’s that time of the year when high school seniors and their families are finalizing the big decision about where they will attend college.


Leaders at Dougherty Family College (DFC) at the University of St Thomas want seniors to know that it’s not to late to apply for fall admission.


They are reaching out to prospective students who may think they can’t afford a private college education. Students and their families are invited to learn more at an upcoming Block Party. The DFC Block Party will welcome them at the downtown campus of the University of St Thomas on May 9 from 11 am to 1 pm.


DFC is known for its affordability. While earning a two-year associate’s degree, DFC students get free laptops, tutoring, books, a free bus pass and even free breakfast and lunch. That allows most students to graduate with very low student debt.


“The purpose, goal and intent of Dougherty Family College is to minimize the social, academic and financial barriers to that many scholars who come from under-resourced communities have,” said DFC Dean Dr Buffy Smith. “We want to be known as a college for the community.”


Ninety-four percent of DFC students identify as BIPOC; 80% are first generation college students.


With rigorous academics and hands-on paid internships, the DFC program is designed to prepare students to seamlessly transition to a four-year institution to continue their studies towards a bachelor’s degree, at UST or another college or university.


DFC students attend small classes on the downtown UST campus. The learning environment allows students to get to know their professors, mentors and their classmates. That eases the transition from high school to college and helps to propel them to academic success.


“We want all of of our scholars to feel special. We build a strong sense of community and belonging, it is key to what we do,” Dr Smith said. “We offer an intimate, culturally-affirming learning environment. That makes our scholars successful, and give the faculty and staff the opportunity to love on our scholars.”


High school students and their families who are curious about DFC are invited to the downtown Minneapolis UST campus for the second annual DFC Block Party on May 9 between 11 am and 1 pm.


The day promises to be fun-focused, with snacks, games and optional campus tours. Students will be able to meet the DFC community, including current students, alumni and faculty.


The event is open to all, but online registration is requested at



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