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2021 Special Session

New grant programs, increased protection against closures among higher education changes

Increased funding for the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities and the University of Minnesota are part of the omnibus higher education law, which also includes new grant and scholarship programs and procedures to identify schools at risk of closure.

Sponsored by Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL-New Brighton) and Sen. David Tomassoni (I-Chisholm), the law, mostly effective July 1, 2021, appropriates funds to the Office of Higher Education, Minnesota State, University of the Minnesota, and the Mayo Clinic’s education programs. It also initiates several new grant programs.

2021 Special Session: SSHF7*/SSSF18/SSCH2

Office of Higher Education

The law appropriates $271.7 million from the state’s General Fund in fiscal year 2022 and $274.2 million in fiscal year 2023 to the Office of Higher Education. For fiscal year 2022, the largest funding totals go to:

• state grants, $210 million;

• work-study grants, $14.5 million;

• interstate tuition reciprocity, $8.5 million;

• child care grants, $6.7 million;

• Minitex and MNLink library resource sharing networks, $5.9 million;

• agency administration, $4.5 million;

• American Indian scholarships, $3.5 million;

• a spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury research grant program, $3 million;

• dual training competency grants, $2 million;

• Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System, $1.8 million;

• aspiring teachers of color scholarship pilot program, $1.5 million;

• Minnesota Independence College and Community, $1.2 million;

• intervention for college attendance program grants, $1.1 million; and

• grants to underrepresented student teachers, $1 million. (Art. 1, Sec. 2)

Minnesota State

Minnesota State will be appropriated $792 million in fiscal year 2022, and $789.5 million in fiscal year 2023. Of its biennial total, $1.5 billion is for general operations and maintenance, while $58.2 million is for the system’s central office and shared systems unit.

Under the law, undergraduate tuition rates for Minnesota State cannot rise more than 3.5% per year for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years.

Among specific Minnesota State appropriations for fiscal year 2022 are:

• upgrading the Integrated Statewide Record System, $8 million;

• supplemental aid to state colleges with campuses outside of a metropolitan county, $5.7 million;

• workforce development scholarships, $4.5 million;

• the Learning Network of Minnesota, a statewide telecommunications and technology network, $4.1 million;

• mental health awareness, $1.5 million; and

• student basic needs, $1 million. (Art. 1, Sec. 3)

University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota will receive $692.8 million per year during the 2022-23 biennium. Of that, $622 million is for operations and maintenance, with the following base-level amounts established among the appropriations:

• agricultural and extension service, $42.9 million;

• the Academic Health Center, $22.2 million from a portion of cigarette taxes;

• medical school, $15 million;

• health sciences, $9.2 million;

• partnership with the Mayo Foundation, $8 million;

• health training restoration to support faculty physicians, the mobile dental clinic, and expansion of geriatric and family programs, $7.8 million;

• general research, the Labor Education Service, Natural Resources Research Institute, Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, Bell Museum of Natural History, and the Humphrey exhibit, $7.4 million;

• MnDrive to advance research for cancer care, $4 million;

• training primary care physicians, $2.1 million from the health care access fund; and

• the College of Science and Engineering geological survey and talented youth mathematics program, $1.1 million. (Art. 1, Sec. 4)

Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Foundation will receive $1.35 million in fiscal years 2022 and 2023. That includes base-level funding of $686,000 per year to the family practice and graduate residency program to pay stipend support for up to 27 residents each year, and $665,000 per year to the medical school, with the intention of increasing the number of doctors practicing in rural areas. (Art. 1, Sec. 5)

[MORE: View the spreadsheet]

Policy changes

The law makes several changes related to the risk of closure, particularly of private career schools. It codifies specific and detailed procedures the Office of Higher Education will undertake in its analysis to determine if an institution is at risk of precipitous failure and closure. It also requires an institution to submit a registration renewal application when it enters receivership, requires institutions to submit a licensure renewal application when there is a “change of ownership” of the institution and requires institutions to maintain student records required for professional licensure for at least 10 years. (Art. 2, Secs. 25-26, 28-32)

Among its 47 policy provisions the law will:

• require the Office of Higher Education to, by Feb. 15, 2022, annually post on its website a summary data on students who withdraw from enrollment without completing a degree;

• lower the assigned family responsibility element of the state grant formula by three percentage points for each category of student, effectively raising state grant awards;

• increase the default amount of the living and miscellaneous expense allowance from 106% to 109% of federal poverty guidelines for a one-person household;

• effective June 27, 2021, establish a higher education grant program for students currently or formerly in foster care, beginning in the 2022-23 academic year;

• remove the eligibility caps regarding enrollment for child care grants, and increase the maximum annual grant award for each eligible child from $3,000 to $6,500;

• expand eligibility and specify maximum awards for American Indian scholarships to students who are enrolled in or citizens of a federally recognized or Canadian recognized tribe;

• create a grant program for student teachers who belong to a racial or ethnic group underrepresented in the state’s teacher workforce;

• expand the student teacher candidate grants program to student teachers who intend to teach in a rural school district;

• increase the total amount of loans that can be refinanced under the SELF Refi program from $100 million to $300 million;

• establish a teacher shortage loan repayment program;

• set several criteria for dual training competency grants;

• establish a Office of Higher Education program to award matching grants to postsecondary institutions on a competitive basis in order to expand concurrent enrollment offerings;

• require Minnesota State to implement a mental health awareness program at each college and university by fall of 2022;

• create new requirements for Minnesota State to inform students about assistance programs;

• expand the existing hunger-free campus designation program and incorporate a competitive grant program;

• make various changes to the Z-Degree statute, a zero-textbook-cost associate’s degree requirement at state colleges;

• expand programs of study or certification eligible for workforce development scholarships by allowing a Minnesota State institution to designate a program as eligible based on regional workforce shortage data from the Department of Employment and Economic Development;

• require Minnesota State to expand credit for prior learning for work-based experiences and make students aware of the opportunity to receive credit for prior learning;

• create a non-statutory direct admissions pilot program to automatically offer conditional state college or university admittance to eligible graduating high school seniors;

• require Minnesota State, and request the University of Minnesota, to provide a report by Jan. 1, 2022, on expense patterns of public higher education institutions;

• prohibit schools from attaching transcript release to payment of student debts; and

• establish a scholarship pilot program for aspiring Minnesota teachers of color to be administered by the Office of Higher Education (Art. 2, Secs. 1-2, 4, 7-24, 31-45).

New Laws 2021

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HF0007* / SF0018 / CH2
House Chief Author: Bernardy
Senate Chief Author: Tomassoni
Effective Dates: See chapter summary in the file link above.
* The legislative bill marked with an asterisk denotes the file submitted to the governor.