Today on the Senate floor, Senate Republicans voted for an under-funded Higher Education Omnibus Budget Bill (SF 975) that invests just $43 million in Minnesota’s post-secondary institutions and students. Though the bill increases the student grant fund, it falls short in funding both the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State at a time when both systems have faced serious budget challenges due to the pandemic.
The bill also makes tuition cut requirements without providing the necessary funding to the University and Minnesota State to cover the costs. The investments in this bill are well below what both systems requested and what the governor proposed. Minnesota State will receive $25 million despite a $120 million request and the University of Minnesota will receive $15 million, but requested $46.5 million. Governor Walz proposed fully funding both of the universities’ requests.
“Once again we are seeing higher education come in last place on the budget target list. Minnesota law encourages the state to fund 67% of a student’s higher education cost, requiring students and their families to fund the remaining 33%. Because of chronic underfunding, that percentage split has flipped. We can and must do better,” said the DFL lead of the Higher Education Committee, Senator Greg Clausen (DFL-Apple Valley).“The future of Minnesota is tied to our educated and talented workforce. Underfunding higher education weakens the effectiveness of our past investments for the future. I voted for the bill today to support important programs like the student grant fund and will be working to ensure the final bill provides greater support for Minnesota’s students.”
The bill did include two DFL initiatives: the Hunger Free Campus and College Possible programs. These programs will help low-income and underserved students with basic needs such as food, housing, transportation, and mentoring.