Sen. Anderson: Higher Education budget focuses on workforce development & accountability

Today, Higher Education Committee Chair, Senator Paul Anderson (R- Plymouth), released the committee’s biennial budget bill. The bill leverages $100 million in new investments to protect students and families from increased costs by boosting scholarship funds and limiting tuition increases, bolsters successful programs that meet workforce needs, and increases accountability for public higher education systems.

“This bill prioritizes Minnesota students by making post-secondary education more affordable, more accessible, and more relevant.  We provide funding for scholarships that bring student costs down, and we invest in programs that will help prepare the next generation for a changing economy. By increasing funding and eligibility to the State Grant Program and ramping up the Workforce Scholarship Program, the bill makes it clear that we are committed to helping students access education and training that will prepare them for successful careers,” Anderson said.

Minnesota’s State Grant Program provides financial assistance to low-income students. The Senate Higher Education bill adds funding and expands eligibility to more students.  Additionally, the bill provides emergency grants to students in crisis – these grants allow students to stay in school when financial challenges outside of tuition might have forced them to drop out. 

The bill also provides for a significant expansion of the Workforce Development Scholarship Program by including additional training programs, adding flexibility to target returning workers, and rewarding campuses leveraging private-sector partnerships to increase scholarship awards. Additional grant funding is also available to campuses working directly with employers to increase career exposure activities.

“The innovative Workforce Development Scholarship program incentivizes students to enter academic programs in high-demand industries. This is win-win because it not only ensures student’s education is relevant, but it also ensures Minnesota has the skilled workforce it will need into the future,” said Anderson.

In addition to capping tuition at the cost of inflation, the Senate bill also calls on Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to increase access to online learning and reduce tuition for online courses to match those of on-site courses. 

“Our bill holds the line on cost increases – at a time when student debt runs the risk of crippling the next generation, we call on our state colleges and universities to create a plan to reduce costs, and we will hold them accountable to their plans,” Anderson said.

“Students are at the center of this higher education package – through targeted investments and by asking our public higher education systems to hold the line on tuition increases, we are able to help more students access and afford college,” said Anderson. “By targeting funding to students entering in-demand fields and incentivizing campuses to work with employers, we are also ensuring that the education our students receive is relevant to the future of work in Minnesota, in every corner of our state.”