Legislative proposal made to increase State Grant funding

A legislative proposal was made in late February that would make a significant investment in the State Grant program, which helps lower- and middle-income students afford college. Authored by five state senators, the proposal — Senate File 1194 — would increase State Grant funding by $60 million. That’s a very sizable 17 percent increase over current funding.

Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) and Sen. Richard Cohen (DFL-St. Paul) are the chief authors of the bill; the other authors are Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis), Sen. Greg D. Clausen (DFL-Apple Valley) and Sen. Branden Petersen (R-Anoka).

This is a significant proposal, one that would raise the cap that limits how much tuition is taken into account when grants are set. That cap is currently below the tuition at the U of M; raising it would help lower- and middle-income students at both the U of M and private nonprofit colleges. There are other changes in the proposal, including improving how the awards address students’ living expenses. The result would be that more students would be eligible for grants and grants would become larger — changes that are very important for college students across the state.

Almost 100,000 students currently receive State Grant awards; they attend two- and four-year institutions, both public and private. Some are traditional students, going on straight after high school. Others are returning to college after being in the workforce. Read more background about the State Grant program — and why it matters. 

This proposal has a long way to go this legislative session. It will need to be heard in committee and we will see if a companion bill will be introduced in the House. Whether the bill will become law will ultimately depend on decisions that get made at the end of the legislative session, when legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton need to reach some agreement.