The conference committee report provides $150 million in additional funding for the Office of Higher Education, the State Grant program, and the MinnState and University of Minnesota systems. The Senate’s original proposal increased funding by $100 million and the House by $306 million. The Governor’s proposal increased funding for higher education by $164 million. (SF 2415)

The Minnesota state grant program, which provides funding for low-income students to attend post-secondary education, will increase by $18.162 million in FY20-21.

The conference committee report also changes how the grant awards are calculated, meaning that more students/families will receive grants next year. The Assigned Family Responsibility is calculated based on income and household size and determines the family contribution amount to a student’s cost of attendance.For dependent students, the assigned family responsibility is 82%, down from 84%; for independent students with dependents other than a spouse – 74%, down from 76%; and for independent students without dependents – 38%, down from 40%.

The allowance in law for miscellaneous living expenses and tuition and fees is set at 106% of federal poverty guidelines, up from 101%. For a family of four, that allowance is $27,295.

Funding in the budget bill:

Office of Higher Education:

  • $6.838 million (FY20-21) additional funding

OHE Program increases:

  • $500,000 (each year) – College Possible (Cohen – Senate $200,000)
  • $1.5 million – Teachers of Color grants
  • $2.01 million – MN Reconnect
  • $250,000 – Summer Academic Enrichment (Dziedzic – Senate $100,000)
  • $188,000 – Loan Assistance Repayment Program (LRAP)
  • $400,000 – Teacher Shortage Loan Forgiveness
  • $400,000 – Student Loan Debt Counseling (Senate – $234,000)
  • Intervention for College Attendance Program (ICAP) $250,000 (FY 20-21)
  • $1.8 million – SLEDS/ECLDS

OHE Program Cuts:

  • $500,000 – Minnesota Independence Life College and Community
    • Only Minnesota residents to receive state grant funds
    • Current out-of-state recipients to continue to get funds
  • $50,000 – Inclusive Access (textbook) Pilot program
  • $50,000 – Teacher Prep Program Design Grant
  • $200,000 – Fab Lab (Newton)
  • $7.2 million – Supplemental Aid to Non-Metro Colleges (Bakk)

MinnState System (37 institutions across the state):

  • Additional $64.5 million (FY20-21), which is $181.5 million less than MinnState’s request
  • Tails – $67.48 million (FY22-23)

MinnState Program increases:

  • $250,000 – Campus mental health services
  • $7.5 million – Workforce Development Scholarships
  • $200,000 – Cook County Higher Education Board
  • $1.5 million – Teachers of Color grants
  • $8 million – ISRS Next Generation (MinnState)
  • $500,000 – Z-Textbook/Open Textbook Program
  • $1 million – Skilled Workforce partnership
  • $1 million – Leveraged Equipment Acquisition

MinnState Program cuts:

  • $100,000 – Online Ag Course Development
  • $350,000 – Veterans to Ag Program

Last session, the Senate bill completely cut out the University of Minnesota for funding. This year’s bill provides more funding for Operations and Maintenance but also requests a tuition cap for the upcoming year; the U of M will receive less than half of their full funding request this session, which was $87 million for the biennium. They will instead receive an additional $43.5 million in FY20-21 and $45.24 million in FY22-23. Primary Care Health Initiatives will continue to be funded through HCAF. No funds were appropriated for the Rare Disease Advisory Council.



Tuition cap set at 3% for MinnState and U

MinnState institutions must cap tuition increases at 3% for the next two years for resident undergraduate students. The U of M is requested to do the same. Tuition relief must not be offset by increases in mandatory fees, charges, or other assessments.

This provision replaces the “hard” freeze included in the Senate bill. The House bill also froze tuition but provided funding to cover the costs for both the U of M and MinnState. The Senate bill did not provide that funding.

Mental health services and health insurance information to be provided on campuses

Mental health services will be available by a contracted health service provider on five MinnState campuses. The conference committee report provides $250,000 for the program; each campus must employ one or more faculty counselors beyond the current counselors employed. Services will be provided free of charge to students with no insurance, high co-payments, or whose insurance doesn’t cover mental health. The mental health organization providing services must also provide information and guidance to students seeking health insurance.

Online course tuition differences frozen for one year; report required

MinnState institutions are not allowed to charge more than the 2018-19 academic year rate for a comparable online course for the 2020-21 academic year; the U of M is requested to do the same. Institutions may increase online/differential courses charged in FY20-21 where course delivery has increased due to extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the institution. A report on rationale for differential tuition is due to the Legislature by January 15, 2020.

U of M, MinnState administrative cost report in 2021

Both the U of M and MinnState systems must report by February 1, 2020 on how they would achieve a 10% reduction in administrative costs by July 1, 2021.

This Senate provision was included to help identify efficiencies to lower program costs and potentially tuition rates for higher education.

Minnesota Independence Life College and Community

Only Minnesota residents can receive state grants for the program; current grant recipients continue to be eligible. No additional funding was provided for the school located in Richfield that serves students with disabilities.

MICC funding restored in E-12 bill

Although the higher education bill was passed and signed prior to the special session, additional funding was included for the MICC in the E-12 education bill. An additional $500,000 (FY20) was appropriated to MICC and $625,000/year put in the base. The additional funding had not been included in the Higher Education bill. The funding was appropriated from the general fund and will be transferred to the Office of Higher Education.

Argosy students compensated for school closure

Argosy University closed abruptly on March 8, 2019, leaving students with few options. The institution failed to reimburse students certain state aid and loan dollars due to them. About 1,100 students were affected by this closure. The conference committee report authorizes the Office of Higher Education (OHE) to distribute funds directly to eligible students and write-off loan debt the students incurred. (SF 2849)

Payments of specified state aid dollars will be paid directly to students and to reverse disbursements of SELF loans to Argosy. These actions must take place by October 31, 2019. Students who receive compensation must agree in writing to sign over their ability to sue Dream Center Education Holdings (Argosy’s parent company) or Argosy. The bill also directs OHE to pursue all claims arising from SELF loans made for Argosy students when it is in the best interest of the state. A report is also required to the Legislature by November 30, 2019. Eligible financial aid programs: SELF loans, MN GI bill, MN Child Care grant, State Grants, and MN Indian Scholarships.



Curriculum for community health workers

MinnState required to collaborate with Northwestern Health Sciences University to develop a modified community health worker curriculum for health workers, chiropractors, podiatrists and acupuncturists.

No contract negotiation limits

A provision limiting the amount MinnState institutions can negotiate with employees based on state appropriation mounts available was not included in the conference committee report.

Affirmative consent

This provision would have required that post-secondary institutions include a provision as part of their sexual harassment and violence prevention policy establishing an affirmative consent standard. All parties to sexual activity would be required to affirmatively consent to the activity. (House provision)