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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Bud Nornes (R)

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RELEASE: House approves Higher Education funding package

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House of Representatives has approved a partial tuition reduction for two-year state colleges as part of a higher education funding bill the body passed Tuesday on a vote of 77-53.

The bill (S.F. 2214) provides $3.2 billion in General Fund appropriations – a $149.5 million increase over the current biennial total. This includes $1.4 billion to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, an increase of $93.6 million in 2018-19.

The package features a freeze for two year state colleges during the 2017-18 school year and a 1-percent reduction in 2018-19. Tuition at state universities would be frozen in 2019.

“The core objective in our committee has been to put students first and this bill accomplishes that,” said Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, chairman of the House Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance Committee. “With tuition costs rising across the country, House Republicans are working to make sure middle class families can afford a quality education for their kids. While two-year Minnesota State institutions do offer liberal arts degrees, they largely focus on vocational training and technical programs. These programs are especially important to fill Minnesota’s workforce needs and create steady well-paying jobs in high-need career areas. This bill does well to support them.”

In addition to the Minnesota State system, the bill also funds:

  • U of M: $1.1 billion ($22 million increase over Feb. forecast)
  • Office of Higher Education: $501 million ($33.8 million above Feb. forecast)
  • Mayo: $2.7 million (even with Feb. forecast)

Other items in the package include:

  • Requiring a public post-secondary institution to admit an applicant who is in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class.
  • Establishing a workforce development scholarship to incentivize students to enter high-demand occupations after high school graduation.
  • Funding a program for student debt counseling through the Department of Education.
  • Creating student loan forgiveness programs for people who relocate to Greater Minnesota, or pursue aviation, agricultural or teaching degrees.
  • Prohibiting mandatory student activity fees at public post-secondary institutions.
  • Establishing a scholarship program for qualified teachers of color.
  • Creating an academic program for students with intellectual disabilities at Minnesota State.

“As a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota and vice chairman of the Higher Education Committee, I know the important roles the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State play in our state,” added Rep. Drew Christensen, R-Savage, Vice Chair of the Higher Education Committee. “The House plan is a strong step forward toward making higher education more accessible and affordable for all Minnesotans. It also works to ensure institutions of higher education are accountable and using their resources to better serve students and benefit all Minnesotans.”



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