TuitionMatch-MN Makes a Difference

Navy Thann

Navy Thann enters Dental Assistant program with help from 3:1 savings plan

Originally from a small village in Cambodia near Kampong Cham, a city of 120,000 people on the Mekong River, Navy Thann, 34, arrived with her husband in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2002. Her parents had survived the Khmer Rouge, who ruled her country from 1975 to 1979 and were responsible for killing more than a million people. The Killing Fields of Cambodia are considered one of the worst examples of state-sponsored genocide in human history.

Navy (pronounced NAH-vee) eventually realized the nature of her marriage prevented her from being herself and growing as a person. She found the courage to start out on her own with her two children. “I knew I would never know anything,” she said. “I needed more freedom to learn and have a career.”

Navy worked for a time in a factory, but factory life wasn’t for her. She earned her nursing assistant certificate and got a job at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis, a position she has held for five years. She thought about going on to college, but was hesitant because she was a single mom with two kids.

“I did not complete my education in Cambodia,” she said. “I didn’t think people with children could go to college, but my friends told me that doesn’t matter in United States. They encouraged me to check out Dakota County Technical College.”

The Dental Assistant program attracted her attention due to the strong career potential with good pay and benefits. She could also earn her A.A.S. degree in two years.

“The first time I came to DCTC I was so nervous I could not eat or sleep,” Navy said. “I was afraid all the time and I didn’t know why. I had to fight through my fear.”

With help from the tutors in TRIO Student Support Services, Navy buckled down and completed her general education coursework while maintaining a 4.0 G.P.A. Navy also got help from TuitionMatch-MN, a college savings program made possible by a $1 million grant from the Assets for Independence (AFI) Demonstration Program of the Office of Community Services, an office of the Administration for Children and Families under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Dora Schumacher, TRIO director at DCTC, reported that TuitionMatch-MN is a great way for students to cover their college expenses and reduce their debt load.

“TuitionMatch-MN allowed DCTC to develop a 3:1 matched savings Individual Development Account program to help low-income Minnesotans build the financial assets they need to pursue a college education,” Dora said. “Cost is the number one barrier to obtaining a postsecondary degree for low-income individuals with no previous college experience. By 2018, 70 percent of Minnesota jobs will require education beyond high school.”


  • Quadruple your money! Save $1 and we will match it with $3
  • Provides financial literacy courses, individualized career counseling and work experiences
  • Keeps you on track so you can graduate with minimal debt and are fully prepared to enter the workforce

Eligibility requirements

  • Currently enrolled at DCTC and have at least three semesters left
  • 18 years of age or older
  • Resident of Minnesota
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, eligible non-citizen or DACA student
  • Current household income must be at or below 200 percent of the Federal Income Guideline

Eligible TuitionMatch-MN participants may save up to $960 each, and can deposit the full $960 of earned income when they open their savings account; or, they can make monthly installments over the course of two years. This initial investment will be matched 3:1 (1.5 by AFI funds and 1.5 from each partnering college) for a total of $3,840 per student. Participating students receive free of tuition 12 hours of financial literacy training in their first semester and 10 hours of career counseling in their second semester.

TuitionMatch-MN FAQ

Today, Navy resides in Farmington, Minnesota, with her parents, who moved from Cambodia in 2008, and her children, Tyler Van, 12, a kung fu participant, and Anita Van, 11, a soccer player. Navy is an accomplished professional seamstress who designs her own clothes. She is depositing $480 a year into her TuitionMatch-MN account. She starts her Dental Assistant classes fall semester 2015.

When asked what she likes best about Minnesota, Navy had a one-word answer: “Education.”

For more information about TuitionMatch-MN at DCTC, contact:

Dora Schumacher
TRIO Director

To learn more about the Dental Assistant program, contact:

Serena Jones
Enrollment Advisor and Financial Aid Specialist
Jaime Pieper
Dental Assistant Faculty
Diana Sullivan
Dental Assistant Faculty