For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875
ST. PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives both passed a Higher Education budget bill this week.
The bill includes the Minnesota DREAM Act (HF 875/SF 723). It now heads to Governor Mark Dayton’s desk to be signed into law.
Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL—St. Paul), who authored the separate DREAM Act bill in the House, praised the legislation for expanding access to higher education.
“This is an outstanding bill,” said Rep. Mariani. “It makes sure all Minnesotans have the opportunity to obtain a post-secondary education regardless of personal circumstances. We need that to happen if we want Minnesota to stay economically competitive.”
Under the Minnesota DREAM Act, certain undocumented youth will be eligible for state financial aid and in-state tuition rates. Eligible students must meet the following criteria:
A broad range of stakeholders support the Minnesota DREAM Act, including the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Education MN, MnSCU, private colleges, the University of Minnesota, ISAIAH faith communities, and labor unions.
12 other states, including Texas, have already enacted laws and policies that provide access to post-secondary to all immigrant students, regardless of their immigration status.
“It’s a good investment in our economic future, and it was the right thing to do,” added Rep. Mariani. “This is going to make a positive impact on lots of lives.”
The bill also includes substantial funding increases for the State Grant Program, which provides education funding for low-income students. It reinstates a long-overdue focus on holding down tuition.
The Higher Education budget bill addresses record levels of student debt by freezing tuition for the next two years at Minnesota’s public colleges and universities. Tuition more than doubled at University of Minnesota and MnSCU schools over the past decade due to budget cuts.
Finally, the bill seeks to undo the damage caused by the previous legislature’s record cuts to higher education by increasing funding by $250 million. Half of those resources are used to freeze in-state resident tuition over the next two years. In addition, it allocates $35 million to the MnDrive research program at the University of Minnesota and over $75 million allocated to the Office of Higher Education to increase grants for access, choice, and debt reduction.
“The amount of debt young adults must take on to obtain a post-secondary degree has reached a level that does not work and actually hurts people,” said Rep. Mariani. “We recognize the need to get those costs under control now by bringing down tuition.”
Rep. Mariani encourages his constituents to contact him with any comments or questions. He can be reached by phone at (651) 296-9714, by email firstname.lastname@example.org, or by postal mail at 381 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.