Senator Greg Clausen (DFL-Apple Valley) has worked for several years to reinstate a state match of up to $500 to implement a Minnesota tax incentive for a 529 College Savings Plan. Sen. Clausen is pleased the legislation is part of the 2016 Tax Bill compromise.
Today the Office of the Legislative Auditor presented an update to the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee on reforms being undertaken at the University of Minnesota, in the area of human research testing and in the Department of Psychiatry.
Initiatives addressing the state’s teacher shortage problem, investing in early education and student support services, and investing in the need-based State Grant Program are featured prominently in the Senate’s $148.2 million education and higher education budget articles that passed last Thursday.
During a more than seven hour floor debate on Thursday, Sen. Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth) successfully added two amendments onto the Senate’s $489 million budget bill. The first amendment directs the Department of Public Safety to evaluate potential locations for oil-related safety training for first responders. The second amendment calls on the University of Minnesota to provide the legislature additional information on how it constructs its budgeting for greater Minnesota campuses.
Between 2002 and 2013, the price of college textbooks rose 82 percent — more than twice the rate of inflation, according to a recent study by the Government Accountability Office. This staggering increase has further weighed down Minnesotans who are already dealing with one of the highest student loan debt burdens in the country.
As high school students and their families make plans for attending college in the fall, one challenge may be finding ways to pay for it. A new grant program provides the perfect option. Thanks to legislation passed in 2015, qualifying students can attend college for free by studying the skills and trades, giving them the competitive advantages needed to succeed in a 21st century economy – while also addressing workforce shortages being felt across the state. Passed in the Senate Higher Education Omnibus Bill, this Two-Year Occupational Grant Pilot Program at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) gives qualifying students seeking a degree in high-skilled, high-demand areas, the opportunity to have much of their education paid for.