ST. CLOUD -- We're expecting to see a spike in the cost to heat our homes this winter, which means more people will be looking for help to pay their heating bills.

Lisa Drew is the Planning And Evaluation Director at Tri-CAP in St. Cloud. They are in charge of processing all of the Energy Assistance Program applications for Stearns, Benton, Sherburne, and Morrison Counties.

She says the number of people eligible for assistance has increased this year from 50 percent of the state median income to 60 percent.

In a household of one that maximum income might be about $35,000, or for a household of four that might be about $67,000.

Drew says 100,000 more households in Minnesota could potentially be eligible for the program.

Also, she says the grant size has increased this year as well.

Grants can range from $300 up to a maximum of $2,000.  Just to give you a perspective on that, last year the maximum grant was $1,400, so it's gone up about $600.

Drew says there are four factors that go into the formula to determine your grant size, your household income, the number of people in your home, your past year's energy costs, and the type of heat you have.

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She says they are accepting applications right now.

As a matter of fact, we're kind of running ahead in terms of the number of applications received so far for this season.  We're at about almost 4,500 applications received and that's about 500 more than last year at this time.

Drew says they primarily are there for heating assistance, but they do also offer help to repair or replace your furnace in an emergency.

To apply for heating assistance contact Tri-CAP they have applications online, in their office, or they can mail one out to you.

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