Higher education agreement provides more system funding, program aid for students

The Higher Education Funding and Policy Agreement provides a 50% funding increase over the original Senate budget bill passed in May.

The working group agreement target of $100 million provides funding to the University of Minnesota and MinnState systems, the state grant program, Hunger Free Campus appropriation, money to recruit more students of color into teaching, and a new program to provide higher education opportunities for children who have been in foster care. (SF 18)

Other highlights include:

  • Increased state grant funds will help more students.
  • Th Assigned Family Responsibility (AFR) and Living and Miscellaneous Expenses (LME) percentages changes will also provide additional state grants dollars to more students and result in higher grant awards for low-income students and their families.
    • These changes will have the following impact:
      • 2,782 new student grant recipients
      • Average grant increase: $87
      • 46% of new students will be from families with incomes below $40,000
      • Average grant for these students: $67
  • MinnState cannot increase tuition by more than 3.5% in the next two academic years. MinnState administration has agreed to this provision.
  • College Possible program will receive increased funding to expand its reach in Minnesota.
  • Z-degree textbook program gets a boost to help students afford college educational materials.
  • A new grant program will provide funds for foster care students to afford college tuition.
  • Hunger Free Campus designation and grant programs will help students who face emergencies stay on track and in college.
  • Two grant programs and a new scholarship program will help bring more students of color into teacher prep programs and Minnesota classrooms.

Finally, the University of Minnesota and MinnState received increased appropriations to fund programs for students. The increases were substantial compared to what the Senate Republicans had proposed in the original bill. Even though the funding increased, Minnesota remains far behind its statutory commitment to fund two-thirds of higher education costs and students one-third.