JANUARY 2014 Legislative Update

January 2014

Earlier this month the U.S. Congress finalized the federal budget for fiscal year 2014 and the result was positive for college students. The House and Senate agreed on a budget that improves federal financial aid programs:

  • The Pell Grant maximum award was increased by $85 to $5,730 for the next academic year. In Minnesota more than 150,000 lower-income students receive these awards.
  • Funding for federal work study grants was restored to the levels it was at in the previous fiscal year, before sequestration triggered cuts. The same is true for TRiO and GEAR UP, two federal programs that target support for lower-income students, including several here in Minnesota.

Request: If you are in touch with your U.S. representative or senators, consider passing on your appreciation for this recent action. We need strong federal financial aid for college students and Congress’ recent approval of the federal budget further improves that critical support. Look up and contact your senators and representative.

January 2014

Here in Minnesota, legislators won’t return to St. Paul for the legislative session until February 25.  Budgeting -for programs like the State Grant program is generally handled every other year, so a significant increase in funding for financial aid is not likely in this session. However there will be some opportunity for legislators to improve Minnesota’s State Grant program awards by reinvesting the small surplus that the program is running in the current two-year cycle. As we get more information, we will pass it on to the Advocates for Minnesota Student Aid network.

January 2014

"I am a nontraditional student — an adult nursing student who is also a mom to three kids. I am thankful for this grant that allows me to attend the school that works best for me, while also working fewer hours so that I can focus on my nursing studies."
— Bekki Hince, class of 2015, Bethel University

Arielle Skalisky“With this grant, I was able to afford to live on campus, which is huge and has allowed me to experience campus fully and focus on my studies. It also helps relieve the financial burden on my father, who is a single parent.”
Arielle Skalisky, class of 2016, The College of St. Scholastica

"My sister will also be in college soon. Without the State Grant, I would be more worried that we couldn’t keep up with payments."
— Carlos Rivera, class of 2015, St. Olaf College

"Being able to receive a State Grant has eased the financial burden. It has allowed me to attend a college that’s a good fit for my academic and other interests."
— Claire Willeck, class of 2015, Carleton College

January 2014

A new analysis of Minnesota’s private nonprofit colleges shows that their grants to students far exceed the national average. And the large majority of these grants go toward meeting students’ financial needs. You can read more about the results.

January 2014

The new Paying for College program will be rebroadcast on TPT’s Minnesota Channel in February; it airs Sunday, Feb. 9 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 16 at 12:30 p.m. Or you may find it more convenient to watch the program or clips of it online at www.mnprivatecolleges.org/paying. That’s also where five other videos are available, including videos in Spanish and Hmong, all aiming to help demystify just how families can pay for college. (They were co-produced by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the Minnesota Private College Fund, working with TPT’s Minnesota Productions & Partnerships.) Consider passing that link on to families you know with high school students — or share this story.