Senate Republican higher education budget focuses on affordability, accountability, and workforce development

Bill caps student tuition, increases financial assistance program, and seeks cost savings for students

With broad bipartisan support, the Minnesota State Senate passed the Senate Republican higher education budget that protects students and families from increased costs by boosting scholarship funds, capping student tuition, bolstering successful programs that meet workforce needs, and increasing accountability for public higher education systems. In total, the bill invests over $3.3 billion into Minnesota’s higher education systems and $65.7 million more than the last biennium. 

“This bill prioritizes Minnesota students by making post-secondary education more affordable, more accessible, and more relevant,” said Senator Paul Anderson (R-Plymouth), chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee and chief-author of the legislation. “We cap student tuition, provide funding for scholarships that bring student costs down, and we invest in programs that will help prepare the next generation for the economy of tomorrow. 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.”

The Minnesota State Grant Program provides financial assistance to low-income students at all higher education institutions in the state, including private college and universities. The Senate higher education budget 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 a 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,” added 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,” said Anderson.

The bill also funds an expansion of student mental health services at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State systems.

“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,” concluded 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 region of our state.”

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