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State Representative Paul Thissen

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Posted: Sep 22 2014 1:18PM
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House DFL Leaders Announce Intention to Freeze Tuition Until 2017, Reduce Student Debt


Legislators look to build on historic investments in education over past two years

Saint Paul, Minnesota – House DFL leaders announced their intention today to make college more affordable for Minnesota students by supporting a tuition freeze until 2017. In addition, legislators will be looking at additional opportunities to reduce student debt. Freezing tuition until 2017 would ensure an unprecedented four-years of flat tuition for Minnesota students after a decade of steep tuition increases.

“All Minnesota students deserve the opportunity to go to college and receive a degree – without finding themselves under a mountain of debt,” said Speaker Paul Thissen. “We made positive strides over the past two years, but there is more work to be done. A DFL majority will make college affordability a priority and we have good ideas that we are ready to move forward with in 2015.”

Investment in tuition and debt relief for Minnesota students were signature accomplishments from the past two sessions. During the last biennium, the DFL-led Legislature froze tuition for both 2014 and 2015, increased financial aid through the state grant program, and passed legislation to allow the Office of Higher Education to refinance student loans. Still, after the previous decade of steep tuition increases, many students face high costs and mounting debt.

State Rep. Gene Pelowski (DFL- Winona), Chair of the House Higher Education Committee, said he is working closely with the University of Minnesota and MNSCU systems to strike a balance between new efficiencies within the state colleges and universities and additional statewide investments.

“Our priority has been and will continue to be tuition stabilization or reduction and addressing student debt. We will continue providing strong legislative oversight to ensure that students are the priority with our statewide investments,” said Pelowski. “We appreciate the University of Minnesota’s challenge to freeze tuition for another two years, but we will also challenge them to reduce administrative costs. In addition, we want to make sure the investments from the last two years paid off for students.”

House DFL legislators announced the following priorities for the 2015 session:

Keep Tuition Freeze “On Ice” until 2017

After freezing tuition in 2013, the legislature would work with the University of Minnesota and MnSCU systems to freeze tuition until 2017. Along with a greater statewide investment, the legislature will work closely with the U of M and MnSCU to ensure each system is adopting efficiencies in order to better direct state dollars toward tuition stabilization and reduction.

Providing Debt Relief to Students

In 2014, the legislature approved student loan refinancing reforms that will help students receive lower interest rates and lower payments on student loans. House DFLers will be looking at additional opportunities to reduce student debt in 2015 such as:

  1. Expand the state’s loan forgiveness assistance to college graduates that fill jobs in vital fields in Greater Minnesota. This initiative would target areas of Minnesota that are experiencing “brain drain” by helping students that return to their communities as entrepreneurs or in high demand jobs to pay off debt. Students would receive 20% of outstanding student loan repaid up to $3,000 per year if they are working in a qualifying job in Greater Minnesota. Based on successful programs in other states, it would serve to reduce debt and create a "brain gain" in communities across Minnesota.
  2. Provide debt relief to Minnesota graduates that fill jobs in critical areas as part of ServeMinnesota, the state’s administrator for AmeriCorps. This programs would expand opportunities within the ServeMinnesota program so that eligible graduates could have debt forgiven faster.

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