JUNE 2018 Legislative Update

June 2018

Legislators notice when our advocates send emails, tweet, write letters and come to the State Capitol. Hundreds of private college students, college staff and others were strong advocates this past year. So to all of you who took the time to add to that impact—thank you!

Over the fall of 2017 and winter of 2018:

  • Students gathered on campus to write nearly 1,000 letters to Minnesota leaders.

  • Students came to the Capitol and wrote another 450 hand-written notes for Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders.

  • In addition, students held more than 200 in-person meetings with their legislators at the Capitol.

These notes and meetings reminded lawmakers that students are very grateful for financial aid and that advocates are paying attention.

Since there was no new funding this year, we must continue to make our voices heard. With spending bills scheduled for the 2019 legislative session, legislators should make two major strides to improve college affordability through the State Grant program:

  • First, they should award grants based on more reasonable expectations for families — in a way that better recognizes the financial situations of Minnesota’s students and families. This would increase the size of grants.

  • And, they should also restore the reach of the program — so that the program serves more students from middle-class families who need help.

Taking these two steps would represent an important commitment to helping college students.

June 2018

The U.S. House of Representatives may soon by voting on its proposal for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.

H.R. 4508, the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act. This legislation is the House proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

If signed into law, the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act would make college less affordable for students and their families.

You can weigh in with your Members of Congress. Click here to urge them to vote against this bill.

Several provisions in this bill are particularly detrimental to students and to nonprofit private institutions.

  • The bill eliminates the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program, which has been an important means to help our lowest-income students finance their higher education.

  • The legislation also eliminates in-school interest subsidy for undergraduate students. Low and middle income students can currently borrow up to $23,000 with an in-school interest subsidy. This means that interest does not accrue on this amount until a student graduates. Given current interest rates, this saves students nearly $4,000 over four years in college.

  • The bill also eliminates Federal PLUS loans for graduate students, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants and Graduate student eligibility for Federal Work-Study.
June 2018

This will be a busy election year and you may get the chance to talk to legislative candidates who want to represent you. Be sure to tell candidates to prioritize financial aid and make a commitment to invest more in the State Grant program!

Minnesota will be home to a competitive race for governor and every member of the Minnesota House is up for reelection. Find out who is running in your legislative district and tell them that you care about financial aid. All Minnesota students should be able to go to the college that provides the best fit. The State Grant program gives students an incentive to stay in our state and helps them avoid additional student debt. It’s the best way state legislators can help college students across the state.

Tell us what you’re hearing. If candidates are talking about financial aid, private colleges, the State Grant program or higher education generally, we want to know! Email us at info@mnstudentaid.org.

June 2018

The Minnesota Legislature adjourned on May 20 after a whirlwind session. The Legislature passed three major bills right before adjournment, including a tax bill, a spending bill and a bonding bill. However, both the spending bill and the tax bill were vetoed by Governor Dayton. It was a disappointing ending for many: little was accomplished and no new money was allocated to students through the State Grant program.

Throughout the session, however, advocates for the State Grant program — including many private college students and the Minnesota Private College Council — connected with legislators in ways that should pay off in the future. We asked legislators to start taking a longer-term approach to helping students by investing in the State Grant program.