Supporters for increasing need-based State Grant awards for college students have stepped forward in the Legislature with bills that are moving ahead in both the House and Senate. Sen. Greg Clausen introduced SF 3219 and Rep. Bud Nornes, chair of the House Higher Education Committee, introduced HF 3733. The two bills would increase funding by about $25 million. The benefits would include making about 7,000 more students eligible and decreasing the share of expenses that students and families are expected to contribute.
Both bills were heard in committee in early April; students from Bethel University, Augsburg College and Gustavus Adolphus College came to those committee meetings and spoke up for State Grant investment. The bills do have several other authors, including Sen. Terri Bonnoff, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee. “These bills are an important step toward targeting aid and providing opportunities to students,” Sen. Clausen said.
The future of these legislative proposals is uncertain, however. Actual funding for improved State Grant awards will depend on legislators providing supplemental spending on higher education and spending it on State Grant improvements.
With the recent forecast projecting a $900 million state budget surplus, there is some potential room for new spending. Actual changes to State Grant funding would require agreement among leaders of the House, Senate and Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration — potentially at the close of the current legislative session.