Higher Education

Higher education omnibus budget bill

The Senate Republicans’ higher education budget provides a $100 million investment for Minnesota’s higher education system, falling far short of the Governor’s $318 million investment proposal. The Republican investment falls even further behind the MnState and University of Minnesota requests, setting the stage for program cuts, staff layoffs, and potential tuition increases at campuses across the state.

The bill also requires a tuition freeze at MnState and does not allow fee increases to help cover increasing costs. Without providing adequate investments, MnState will need to cut back on programs and staffing to meet inflationary budget demands.

The Senate’s 2018-19 Higher Education investment does need keep pace with inflation. In 2002, the state invested $643 million in the University of Minnesota and $601.6 million in MnState. In 2017, the state invested $650 million in the U of M. If that amount had keep pace with inflation, the legislature would be investing $879 million Minnesota’s land grant research University. That’s a $228 million gap.

In 2017, the state invested $673 million to MnState; if those dollars had kept pace with inflation, the MnState investment would be $814 million—that’s a $141 million gap. (SF 2214)

The bill invests:

  • $484 million for the Office of Higher Education – $54 million less than the Governor’s request
  • $10 million for the state grant programs – $52 million less than the Governor’s request
  • $1 million for Teacher Shortage and Teachers of Color grants – $4 million less than the Governor’s request
  • $53.11 million for the MnState system – $96 million less than the Governor’s request
  • $29.6 million for the University of Minnesota – $96.8 million less than the Governor’s request

Governor’s concerns:

  • The smaller investment in need-based aid will lead to higher student debt loads for those least able to pay for college.
  • The Senate bill provides 32% less than the Governor’s recommendation, and the lack of investment along with tuition freezes will hurt college program quality with fewer program offerings and potential staff layoffs.
  • The lack of new funding for cybersecurity and data infrastructure jeopardizes student data and records at OHE.
  • The bill also combines policy and budget language in one bill, against the objections of the Governor’s March 13 requirements.
  • The Senate bill invests:
    • 8% less than the Governor for MnState;
    • 69% less than the Governor for students and research at the University of Minnesota; and
    • 84% less than the Governor in State Grant funding to provide need-based aid for low-middle income students to attend college in Minnesota.

Senate DFL Caucus concerns:

DFL senators had a number of concerns with the bill as well, including a target that is too low to adequately fund Minnesota’s higher education systems. The low target also short-changes the state grant program, which will contribute to growing student debt and keep those with the most need from attending college. Furthermore, although the Republicans said they support workforce development proposals and agreed that investments were necessary, the bill does not come close to meeting the needed investments to help Minnesota businesses fill workforce demands, especially in the health care sector.

Policy provisions:

  • Tuition freeze requirements for MnState
    • For 2017-18 and academic year, MnState tuition rates must not exceed 2016-17 rates.
    • For 2018-19 academic year, tuition rates must not exceed 2017-18 rates.
    • Relief may not be offset by mandatory fee, charges or other assessment increases.
    • The same request was made to U of M Board of Regents, though the state cannot mandate tuition freezes or reductions at the U of M.
    • There is no funding to pay for the tuition freeze included in the bill.
  • Assigned Family Responsibility (how much a family is expected to pay for college) percentages are modified by 1%:
    • Dependent student: 94% to 93%
    • Independent with no dependents: 50% to 49%
    • Independent with dependents: 86% to 85%
  • The bill caps maximum tuition rates for state grant awards at current levels, meaning that grant awards will not keep pace when higher education institutions increase their tuition. Over time, students lost money and face loan debt increases.
  • The bill requires that information be given to the Legislature on any on system consulting contract over $500,000.
  • The bill changes OHE authority from “shall” to “may” for revocation of private institution operation involved in fraud and takes significant authority away for OHE and Attorney General to safe guard students.
  • A report on the MnState developmental education reform requirement is due to the Legislature by Feb. 15, 2018.
  • A report on the U of M Greater Minnesota student recruitment plan requirement is due to the Legislature by Feb. 15, 2018.
  • The OHE information requirement on Minnesota high school graduate data on developmental education must be reported on the OHE website by Feb. 1, 2018.
Senate DFL Media