ST. PAUL, Minn. – After more than a decade of cuts and tuition hikes, the Senate achieved bipartisan agreement to freeze tuition at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system for the next two years. On a 44-21 vote, legislation was passed earlier today, that will invest an additional $250 million into Minnesota colleges and universities and the State’s student grant program. Today’s Senate approval sends the omnibus bill to the House for approval.
Specifically, the legislation:
— Invests $42.6 million and $95 million, respectively, to freeze tuition at the University of Minnesota and MnSCU for the next two years.
— Invests in MN Drive and leveraged equipment, laying the foundation for economic growth.
— Appropriates $46.7 million to fund college student aid, increase the amount of state grants available to all Minnesotans, and extend aid opportunities to part-time students.
— Utilizes performance funding metrics to ensure that Universities and colleges are providing relevant post-secondary degrees in an efficient manner. If MnSCU or U of M fails to reach three of the five metrics, 5 percent of the FY2015 appropriation is withheld.
— Increases accountability by requiring biennial reports on system wide expenditures, total revenues by funding source, detailed reporting on how the state’s appropriations were allocated, and extensive information related to tuition and fees.
In addition the bill includes the “Minnesota Dream Act” or “Prosperity Act,” which allows around 750 students who are attending high school in Minnesota to qualify for in-state tuition and become eligible for state grants.
Senator Terri Bonoff (DFL – Minnetonka), Chair of the Higher Education and Workforce Development committee, released the following comments following the passage of the bill:
“Students have been coming to us all session saying they need help, that they can’t afford to go to school, that they end up not graduating because they’re working two jobs in order to make it and still they can’t make ends meet. So in our bill we freeze tuition both at MNSCU and at the university of Minnesota. We make a significant investment into the state grant program so that students most in need have access to more dollars. It’s very targeted and it’s all designed to make sure our students can compete when they leave the post-secondary world.”
“Today, we affirmed a bold vision for higher education in Minnesota that addresses our State’s most pressing need, jobs, now. We are making a major investment in higher education and workforce development to increase access and give Minnesota students the chance to attend the best programs our State has to offer, whether they be public or private.”
“Our students are some of the best and brightest in the country, this change will keep more of them in Minnesota for their college years. Keeping these students in state means the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, the engineers, the teachers, the next big thing is Minnesota born and raised and that means Minnesota jobs.”
“The future of Minnesota lies in the potential of our next generation. Minnesota’s best days are ahead of us, and this is a step toward ensuring that our students will be prepared to fulfill the jobs of tomorrow.”