APRIL 2015 Legislative Update

April 2015

In mid-April legislators in the House and Senate higher education committees passed spending and policy bills, with votes expected by the full House and Senate this week. At this point it is clear that the two bodies have chosen very different paths on what to do and how to pay for it. The Senate has stepped up and included policy and funding changes that expand support for college students who receive State Grant awards, which target aid to those with need. The House, unfortunately, would cut State Grant funds, reallocating this money to other areas.

Once passed by the House and Senate, the next step in the process will be a conference committee that will meet in May. So stay tuned until then, to hear how that small group of legislators will resolve the differences in the two chamber’s approaches to addressing higher education.

Here are some details about how the approaches to the State Grant program vary in these bills, alongside Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposals as well.

  Senate
(Senate File 5)
Gov. Dayton House
(House File 845)
Protecting current State Grant program balance Yes Yes No (removing $53 million)
Increasing State Grant funding in next biennium Yes (by $19 million) Yes (by $45 million) No
Raising the cap that limits recognized tuition in State Grant awards Yes (by $626) Yes (by $626) No
Raising the allowance for living/miscellaneous expenses in State Grant awards
Yes (by $338) Yes (by $338) No
April 2015

The Senate media services taped interviews with Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, who chairs the Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee and Sen. Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, who is the lead Republican on the committee. A key segment regarding the State Grant program runs from 4:29 to 6:15. As Sen. Bonoff says in that clip, “we have for a long time believed we should have equal treatment for our systems, MnSCU and the U of M, and the State Grant, which is student directed. Our bill preserves that approach.” View the video.

April 2015

More than 300 college students came to the Capitol during the session to talk about the State Grant program and its impact on their lives and college students in general. These visits take a huge amount of effort — and make a significant difference. Thanks to the students who put the time into speaking up for how the state can best help keep college affordable.

Senator Bonoff with Minnesota private college students
In April students presented a “thank you” poster to Sen. Terri Bonoff; it had been signed by many of the students who had visited the Capitol in the previous weeks to speak to their own legislators.