House DFL Majority Releases Higher Ed Budget Proposal That Includes Fully Funded Tuition Freeze

The MN House DFL released their higher education omnibus bill and Thursday, April 4.

Under the House bill MinnState would receive:

  • $149 million for campus support and a tuition freeze in undergraduate tuition for both years of the biennium. The $149 million for campus support will fully fund the tuition freeze.

  • A $10 million increase Next Gen, bringing the total state support to $18 million in the next biennium.

  • 250,000 for a mental health program at up to five two-year colleges.

  • $200,000 to expand the work on open textbook programs with a focus on textbook affordability for students. The IFO supports the language and funding for the open textbook programs.

The House proposes to increase the State Grant Program by $35 million. The bill proposes to reduce the family contribution in year two by one additional percentage point and increases the living and miscellaneous expense account (LME) to 110% of federal poverty guidelines, which is about a 9% increase. This change will increase every State Grant recipient’s full-time grant amount, as well as bring new recipients into the State Grant program. A change to the LME would benefit all grant recipients equally. The bill also includes funds to supplement the Pell Grant for DREAM Act students because they are not eligible to receive the federal Pell Grant.

The bill also includes $114 million in funding for the Univ of Minnesota, to which Univ of Minnesota leaders would agree to freeze undergraduate tuition.

Other spending items include: 

  • $175,000 each year of the biennium for emergency assistance for postsecondary students. This money is intended to be used to meet immediate student needs that could result in a student not completing the term or their program including emergency housing, food and transportation.

  • $2 million each year of the biennium for the MN Reconnect program. This is a program focused on adult learners who have previously completed a minimum of 15 credits to finish their degree, diploma or certificate at a two-year institution within Minnesota State.

  • $340,000 each year of the biennium for grants to develop new concurrent enrollment courses for career and technical education.

  • $2.7 million each year for student teacher candidate grants to support candidates belonging to a racial or ethnic group underrepresented in the teacher workforce and meeting other eligibility requirements; and the bill includes $2.5 million over the biennium for scholarships to candidates preparing to teach in licensure or demographic shortage areas.

  • $250,000 each year of the biennium for teacher shortage loan forgiveness payments. There is funding for other loan forgiveness programs as well, including $25,000 additional funding each year for the aviation degree loan forgiveness program.

Policy areas in the bill include language that requires providing notice to sexual assault victims on campus of legal advocacy services available to them, as well as language that requires policies to establish an affirmative consent standard at higher education institutions.

The full bill can be found HERE.

The bill is scheduled to be passed out of the Higher Education Committee on Tuesday, April 9.

The Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy committee is scheduled to roll out their higher education omnibus bill Tuesday of next week. They plan to release the bill in committee Tuesday afternoon, followed by mark-up and passage of the bill on Thursday, April 11.