MARCH 2018 Legislative Update

March 2018

College students were among the winners when a new federal spending bill was signed into law March 23, complete with significantly increased funding for some access programs, work study awards and federal grants. Changes made in the new law include:

  • Pell Grant: $175 increase in the maximum grant, from $5,920 to $6,095.
  • Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG): $107 million increase to $840 million.
  • Federal Work Study: $140 million increase to $1.13 billion.

Each of these programs have a sizable impact in Minnesota, with 124,400 students receiving Pell Grant awards, 25,400 receiving SEOG awards and 12,100 receiving Work Study support.

In addition, the new law rejects the administration’s request to eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and increases funding for student loan servicing needs.

One area that had been a possibility for inclusion in the new law was some action to help Dreamers — college students and others who are young, undocumented immigrants — remain legally in the United States. But in the end the law did not address their status. (What’s next for Dreamers in Minnesota was addressed thoroughly in a recent MinnPost article.)

For more about the how federal financial aid will expand under the new law, visit Inside Higher Ed.

March 2018

Since the legislative session started in St. Paul in February, students have been coming to the Capitol to raise the issue of new investments in need-based aid, through the State Grant program. Yes, there’s been a longstanding, bipartisan commitment at the Capitol to directly support students through State Grant awards. But still, too many students and families cannot afford to pay what is expected of them. Financial challenges are a major hurdle to college completion. And State Grant awards have not kept up with the reality of the costs students face.

This session the Minnesota Private College Council is asking policymakers to invest $30 million in college students through the State Grant program by reducing the student share — the costs that students are expected to pay. This would:

  • increase the size of students’ State Grant awards, and
  • increase the number of Minnesota students receiving the awards.

An investment this session would help students this fall. And it would move us closer to truly meeting the financial needs of Minnesota college students and their families.

Looking to learn more? Here’s a PDF of a one pager with a summary of what the State Grant program does and our request for legislators, or visit the Council’s website.

March 2018

New data and stories from private college students highlight the impact of the State Grant program. Here are some examples of what students have to say:

Baomi PhungBaomi Phung '19,  St. Catherine University:
“With the Minnesota State Grant program I am able to take the courses and courseload needed to pursue my major and career in nursing. The grant has alleviated the financial stress of school’s cost and affordability, which in turn has given me the opportunity and time to focus on my studies and extracurricular activities.”

IsaakTjadenIsaak Tjaden'18, Gustavus Adolphus College:
“The Minnesota State Grant allowed me to choose the college that was right for me. At Gustavus, I get one-on-one interactions with faculty, work with an alumni mentor, and am able to participate in a wide variety of co-curricular activities.”


Freddie GillespieFreddie Gillespie '19, Carleton College:
“I was always taught that an investment in oneself and one’s future is worth making. Carleton College is a school that I worked very hard to attend. The Minnesota State Grant program helps to make sure that work wasn’t in vain.”


Sydney SlagterSydney Slagter '20, The College of St. Scholastica:
“The Minnesota State Grant program has affected my ability to attend St. Scholastica by helping ease the financial burden that college often places on students. With this grant I don’t have to worry about getting another job, and it allows me to focus on my responsibilities as a student and build connections with those around me.”