Senate higher education bill short-changes U of M, MnState students
ST. PAUL, Minn — The Senate’s higher education omnibus bill passed off the floor on March 28 with disappointing funding levels for the University of Minnesota and MnState college system. The bill also underfunded the state grant program, which helps keep tuition costs down.
“The Higher Education budget bill provides only $100 million to state schools, which is $218 million below the Governor’s proposal and far below what officials at the U of M and MnState had requested to maintain educational quality at campuses and help keep tuition low,” Sen. Isaacson said. “The bill also falls short in funding state higher education grants to students, providing $52 million less than the Governor’s recommendation – this funding deficiency will only add to our student loan debt problem.”
In contrast, the Governor’s budget recommendation would have provided $96 million for the U of M and $150 million for MnState. The governor also recommended adding provisions to address campus sexual violence, homelessness, and the state’s teacher shortage. Funding was also recommended to address aging technology infrastructure for both systems.
Although the bill does contain language for a tuition freeze at MnState, it does not provide funding to alleviate potential cuts to critical programs or quality professors. Reducing college curricula means fewer options and less availability for our college students. “I offered an amendment that provides some relief to schools because if you are going to freeze tuition you need to pay for it,” Sen. Isaacson said.
“Minnesota faces a serious worker shortage and businesses are clamoring for qualified workers,” Sen. Isaacson said. “We need thoughtful investments and innovation in our higher education, not cuts to the systems that help educate our future workforce. This bill fails to provide essential investments in our state schools, short-changes students, businesses and will exacerbate our student loan debt problem.”