Two bills introduced this week in the Minnesota Senate will help Minnesota students and their families pay for the costs of higher education.
The Minnesota College Affordability for All Act will guarantee a tuition-free undergraduate public college and university education for Minnesota high school graduates whose families make less than $125,000 a year. The act makes both two- and four-year higher education programs tuition free for Minnesota families who qualify. After all existing grants are applied, the state will cover any remaining tuition.
The second bill would provide a college loan tax credit for students and families up to $5,000 based on income. The credit would apply for dependent students with parents filing jointly with incomes between $130,000 and $145,000. Students with independent tax status and household incomes between $65,000 and $95,000 annually would also qualify for the credit. The amount of the credit would decrease depending on income level.
Student loan debt continues to be a concern. The average student graduating with debt in Minnesota carries a balance of $31,579. This is the fifth highest in the country. Minnesota also ranks third highest with the proportion of students who have student debt – about 70 percent of students.
The legislation builds on Senate DFL initiatives passed previously to address student loan debt. Included were college tuition reduction and freezes, increased state grant funding, and a student loan refinancing program that so far has provided relief for 840 student loan borrowers.