SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives is expected to approve a new higher education budget. The legislation was agreed to in a House/Senate conference committee earlier today.
“Minnesotans from all backgrounds deserve a fair shot at earning a quality post-secondary education,” said Rep. Connie Bernardy (DFL – New Brighton), Chair of the House Higher Education Finance and Policy Division. “Working together, we have forged a bipartisan compromise that eases the financial burden on working families and students, expands eligibility for grants, and improves student health and safety.”
The higher education budget supports working families, reduces debt, expands opportunities for low income and nontraditional students, and improves health and safety on campus. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are 775,000 Minnesotans with student debt totaling $27.1 billion.
The budget increases financial support for working families by investing an additional $18.1 million in the state grant program.
To expand opportunities for low income and non-traditional students, the budget increases funding for programs that support high school and college students on their path to graduation. Grants for aspiring teachers of color and indigenous teachers and adult learners who return to college are included. The budget also establishes a program to encourage the use of open textbooks, which would reduce costs for students.
The budget helps keep students safe and healthy. It increases mental health services and creates hunger-free campuses with the aim to end food insecurity among students.
The House higher education budget froze tuition for Minnesota students at all of the state’s two- and four-year public colleges and universities. The Senate budget, however provided a fraction of the funding that the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities requested and would have forced colleges to raise tuition. While House DFLers fought hard to freeze tuition for Minnesota students throughout negotiations, Senate Republicans weren’t willing to provide adequate funding for our colleges and universities.