School Trust Lands

School Trust Lands

What are School Trust Lands?

composite image showing activities on School Trust landsWhen Minnesota became a state in 1858, sections 16 and 36 of every township were granted to Minnesota from the federal government to support schools. Alternative sections, referred to as Indemnity Lands, were granted when sections 16 and 36 had already been claimed, were reserved for an Indian reservation, or were under water. The grant ultimately resulted in 2.9 million acres being given to the state for the use of the public schools. By 1900, much of this land had been sold to support public schools. Also included in school trust lands today are remaining lands from two other federal land grants: the Swampland grant of about 4.7 million acres in 1860, and the Internal Improvement grant of 500,000 acres in 1866. Today 2.5 million acres of school trust lands and an additional 1 million acres of mineral rights remain and are managed by the DNR.

School trust land by type of grant

Type of grant

Original acres granted

Remaining acres







Internal Improvement






The DNR manages the school trust lands for maximum long-term economic return under sound natural resource and conservation practices. Revenues generated from school trust lands are credited to the permanent school fund which is managed by the State Board of Investment. Interest and dividends from the permanent school fund are transferred twice a year, by Minnesota Management & Budget, to all school districts of the state.


Where are School Trust Lands?

graphic: Map of Minnesota showing location of School Trust Lands

Click to enlarge

The vast majority of school trust lands are concentrated in the northeast quarter of the state. Much of the land is intermixed with county, federal, private, and other state lands. School trust lands are owned by the state in trust for all public schools of Minnesota, they are not owned by the local school district.