In late February Gov. Tim Walz proposed a state budget that included a $54.2 million investment in new funding for the State Grant program that provides need-based aid to one in four Minnesota college students. The proposal for a 14 percent increase over the program’s base funding is welcome news.
In a Twitter forum in February, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan described the administration’s budget as focused “on investing in students, which is why we are investing . . . in the State Grant program, allowing students to choose the institution that best supports their needs and ambitions.” She also noted the program’s broad impact, including how under their proposal, State Grant awards combined with federal Pell grants cover the cost of tuition and fees for full-time students at Minnesota State colleges and universities for students from families making up to $45,000.
The Walz administration is taking action to make college more affordable, said Mary Hinton, president, College of Saint Benedict, and chair, Minnesota Private College Council. “The positive impact will stretch across the state, benefitting middle- and lower-income students attending both public and private institutions, earning both bachelor’s and associate degrees.”
The proposed investment would increase the number of students receiving the grants by almost 5,000, up from more than 80,000. And the average grant would increase by more than $300.
The administration’s State Grant proposal is important to addressing educational equity, said Paul Cerkvenik, Minnesota Private College Council president. Students of color, Native American students and lower-income students face greater barriers, he said, when it comes to earning college degrees. Cerkvenik noted that Minnesota can help make college more affordable for many who face the greatest financial barriers with this investment.