Higher Education

The second higher education conference committee report provided a $210 million budget increase over base appropriations for the Office of Higher Education, University of Minnesota, and MnState systems. The second-round budget target agreement provided $110 million more than the original Senate target of $100 million and $85 million more than the bill vetoed by the Governor.

The bill was still well below the Governor’s original $318 million higher education request and well below the requests made by the U of M ($147.2 million) and MnState ($178 million).

Those opposed to the bill argued that the budget target was too low and provided an inadequate investment in the state’s higher education system. Opponents also argued that the split between the University and MnState funding was unbalanced; of the total increase, MnState received 66% of the system funding and the U 33%. In the past, that funding was closer to a 53-47 split. (SF943)

Office of Higher Education

The 2018-19 budget includes $516.5 million in additional funding for the Office of Higher Education to carry out agency functions and programs.

OHE programs funded:

  • Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injury research grants: $6 million (FY18-19)
  • Large Animal Vet Loan Forgiveness: $750,000
  • Grants to teaching candidates: $1 million
  • Campus Sexual Assault Reporting: $50,000
  • Child Care grants: $20,000 over base
  • Campus Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator: $300,000
  • Summer Academic Enrichment: $50,00
  • Grant to Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) $50,000 for loan debt relief to attorneys providing legal advice or assistance to low-income residents.
  • Students with developmental disabilities grants: $400,000
  • Homeless Student emergency assistance: $350,000 (FY18-19)
  • Minnesota Life College: $2 million

MnState

The MnState system received a $106 million funding increase for the coming biennium, about $72 million less than their initial request. The funding provided is about $44 million less than the Governor’s request.

The funding provided will go to the following:

  • $91 million for campus support
  • $1 million for workforce development scholarships
  • $8 million for replacement of Integrated Statewide Records System (ISRS)
  • $120,000 for Cook County Higher Education Board
  • $100,000 for HealthForce Development

University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota did not fare well under the conference committee agreement, with $93 million of their total request unfunded for the coming two years. The U’s $54 million appropriation will fund:

  • $27.95 million for Operations and Maintenance (Core Mission)
  • $14 million Health Training restoration
  • $8 million for MnDrive
  • $1 million assistance for academic programming for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the University Minnesota-Morris
  • $376,000 transfer from Bell Museum

State Grant Program

The state grant program provides tuition assistance for lower- and middle-income students to attend college. The conference committee agreement provided an additional $36 million for the biennium, which was well below the $62 million request made by the Governor. The additional funding is significantly more than the original Senate appropriation of $10 million.

Student and Family College Payment Requirements

The “assigned family responsibility” (AFR) percentages, which determine how much a student and their family should pay for college costs, decreased in the bill, meaning potentially more students will be eligible for more assistance. All AFR percentages decreased by 10%. For dependent students, the AFR is now 84% of parental contribution; for independent students with dependents other than a spouse the AFR is 76% of student contribution; and for independent students without dependents other than a spouse, the new AFR is 40% of student contribution.

Developmental Education Reform Requirements

MnState must create a plan to reform developmental education offerings on system campuses aimed at reducing the number of students placed in developmental education courses. The Office of Higher Education must post on its website developmental education data on Minnesota high school students attending public post-secondary institutions. Information required includes the number of students placed in supplemental or developmental education, the number of students who completed such programs in one academic year, the number of students who complete gateway courses in one academic year, and the time to complete a degree or certificate at post-secondary institution.

Two-Year Outstate Institution Grants

A new program provides $6 million in supplemental funding for two-year institutions not located in a metro county to enhance programs options outside the metropolitan area.

Tuition Freezes Without Funding

The vetoed bill froze tuition for MnState four-year schools and called for a 1% tuition reduction at MnState two-year schools. Although a good talking point, there was not enough money to pay for the freeze or reduction. The bill was poised to hurt basic programs because there was not adequate higher education investment to help schools make up for the inadequate investment. The Republican tuition freeze policy would cost MnState $143 million in FY18-19. The U of M is “requested” to freeze tuition.

The second conference committee report changed the language somewhat, allowing MnState to increase differential (specific departmental programs) tuition charges in 2018 and 2019 under “extraordinary circumstances”, which was not defined in the bill. The bill permits the U of M to set all resident tuition rates for 2018-19 at levels not greater than the 2017-18 rates.

Despite these changes, there is still potential for program cuts, increased class sizes, and staff layoffs relating to the tuition freeze and inadequate investments.

Mandatory Student Fees

The bill prohibits mandatory fee increases of more than 2% and requires MnState and the University of Minnesota to put any student fee increase of more than that amount to a campus referendum. Language in the bill requests U of M to do the same. If U of M fees increase by more than 2% without approval, their appropriation base will decrease by 1% in FY18.

Information Requirement for Parents, Pregnant Students

All public and accredited private higher education institutions are required to provide to parents with children under age 12 and pregnant students information their about legal rights and a list of resources including prenatal care, child care, transportation, and housing. The U of M is requested to comply with this requirement.

U of M Greater Minnesota Outreach and Recruitment

The U of M is requested to develop a plan for outreach and recruitment to increase the number of students admitted to the Twin Cities campus from greater Minnesota. The plan must be reported to the legislature by February 1, 2018.

Fetal Tissue Requirements

The University of Minnesota agreed to fetal tissue research requirement changes and the Office of the Legislative Auditor will review and provide a report on fetal tissue activities at the U.

University fetal tissue requirements included in the conference agreement:

  • The bill requires the Office of the Legislative Auditor to review fetal tissue research activities at the University of Minnesota; and
  • U of M researchers must obtain approval from the Fetal Tissue Research Committee before conducting research. The FTR must consider alternatives to fetal tissue and the Institutional Review Board must review the FTR decision; and
  • The U must report annually to the Higher Education and Health and Human Services committees on fetal research proposals, any actions taken, funding sources, project goals, source of the fetal tissue, whether the fetal tissue used is aborted or non-aborted tissue, references to any publicly available information, and references to any publications resulting from the project.

Consultant Work Requirement

MnState and the University of Minnesota must report data in their biennial budget request on consulting contracts of $500,000 and over from the last two fiscal years. The report must include information on the name of the consultant, total contract value, description of the work, and the reasons for using the outside consultant and not internal staff.

OHE Fraud Revocation

The bill gives OHE the permissive authority to revoke or deny accreditation applications for a school in the case of fraud, instead of a requirement to automatically deny such applications. OHE can also revoke accreditation for the part of the program that was involved in the fraud case. This relates to the Globe University issue from fall of 2016.


Higher Education Bills that Did Not Become Law

VETOED: Higher Education Budget

The vetoed conference report provided $125 million in additional funding for higher education in the next biennium. This is $25 million more than the Senate bill, but still well below the Governor’s request of $318 million. (SF2214)

Key provisions and controversial policy provisions include:

Office of Higher Education

State grant program: $18.5 million; $43.5 million less than the Governor’s recommendation

  • This is the main driver that helps low-and middle-income students pay for college.
  • Small investments mean lower grant amounts to fewer students.

Lack of investment in MnState and University of Minnesota

MnState: $77.7 million; $73 million less than the Governor’s recommendation and $101 million less than the MnState request.

University of Minnesota: $18.6 million; $78.2 million less than the Governor’s recommendation and $128.6 million less than the U of M request.

  • U of M President Kaler said this funding level would hurt outreach programs, research, and educational offerings and result in students having to pay more to attend the U. The lack of investment will hurt Minnesota’s economy overall.
  • $14 million for Health Training restoration
  • $2 million for MnDrive

Loan Forgiveness

The bill included funding for small loan forgiveness and scholarship programs:

  • Large Animal Vets
  • Teachers of Color: Only provides additional $1 million compared to Governor’s $5 million
  • Pilots and aircraft technicians
  • Workforce development $1 million
  • $100,000 HealthForce initiative

Tuition Freezes

The tuition freeze for four-year schools and 1% tuition reduction at two-year schools without adequate investment would hurt basic programs. The Republican tuition freeze policy would cost MnState $143 million in FY18-19. The U of M was “requested” to freeze tuition at a cost of $128.6 million in the next biennium.

Mandatory Fees

The public colleges and universities were prohibited from charging mandatory fees for non-instructional student programs. The U is “requested” to adopt a policy. If the Board of Regents does impose mandatory fees, the MMB commissioner must deduct the amount raised from the U’s appropriation base.

Fetal Tissue

The bill required the Office of the Legislative Auditor to review fetal tissue research activities at the University of Minnesota and included compromise language – approved by the U of M – requiring U of M researchers to obtain approval from the Fetal Tissue Research Committee before conducting research.

The U would need to report annually to the Higher Education and Health and Human Services Committees on fetal research proposals, any actions taken, funding sources, project goals, source of the fetal tissue, whether the fetal tissue used is aborted or non-aborted tissue, references to any publicly available information, and references to any publications resulting from the project.

Consulting Contracts

MnState must report data on consulting contracts $500,000 and over from the last two fiscal years.

Developmental Education Reform

MnState must create a plan to reform developmental education offerings on system campuses aimed at reducing the number of students placed in developmental education courses.

Greater Minnesota Outreach

U of M is requested to develop a plan for outreach and recruitment of students from greater Minnesota to the U’s Twin Cities campus.

Supplemental Aid for MnState Two-Year Institutions

This is a new program that provides supplemental funding for two-year institutions not located in a metro county.

Academic Programming and Grants

The bill requests the University of Minnesota to offer an academic program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the University of Minnesota- Morris. The bill also provides grant funding for students who participate in the program.

Senate DFL Media