When Alia Muellerleile was in high school beginning her college search, she didn’t think it would be possible to go to a private college.
“I never imagined I could afford a private college,” she said.
Now in her junior year studying elementary education at the University of St. Thomas, Muellerleile credits the support she was offered.
“The financial aid I received was better than other places,” she said. “It was a no-brainer with the amount of money I am saving here.”
In addition to receiving the Pell Grant and the Minnesota State Grant, Muellerleile also receives institutional scholarships and help from her grandparents. She also has a work-study at the campus bookstore in Minneapolis.
“Receiving the Pell Grant and the Minnesota State Grant has taken a huge load off paying for my education,” she said. “And I feel blessed to receive support from my family and so many scholarships from St. Thomas, making college a reality for me.”
Besides working at the campus bookstore, Muellerleile stays busy with both the dance club and serving as the vice president of TEACH, a student group that connects future teachers with resources to further professional development outside of the classroom.
Community and location also influenced her college decision. “I love the personable environment of St. Thomas while also having the experience of living in a big city. Within the education program, they get you into the classroom right away and it helps me feel ready to be a teacher.”
The Hutchinson High School graduate explored options at large schools outside of Minnesota, but she quickly changed her mind. “After touring various private colleges in Minnesota, I knew it was what I needed between the small class sizes and the overall atmosphere on campus,” Muellerleile said.
Crediting strong financial aid, small class sizes and community-based experiences for her success, Muellerleile plans to find a teaching job in the Twin Cities after graduation and where she can impact the lives of students in her classroom.
Muellerleile believes that students in high school should spend time exploring both public and private colleges. “It is so important to keep your mind open to change while exploring all of your college options,” she said.