While much remains unresolved this legislative session, lawmakers did pass a higher education bill that Gov. Mark Dayton signed on May 23. Along with providing funding to the state’s two public university systems, the bill expanded the State Grant program — the critical source of need-based grants for college students that Advocates for Minnesota Student Aid (AMSA) champion.
Thanks to the advocacy of hundreds of college students and other supporters, policymakers decided to improve the State Grant program,” said Paul Cerkvenik, president, Minnesota Private College Council. “By investing in the State Grant program, legislators and Gov. Dayton are helping low- and middle-income families pay for college. And AMSA members helped make it happen.”
The outreach from college students at private nonprofit colleges playing particularly critical role. When more than 300 college students visited the Capitol during session, they had a chance to explain in-person just how important the program is to keeping higher education affordable. Letters and emails made a difference too: During the session many AMSA supporters responded to requests to send emails to policymakers, including to Gov. Mark Dayton, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and local legislators.
The omnibus higher education bill that included improvements to the State Grant program passed before the scheduled May 19 end of session — and the governor subsequently signed it.
(But anyone watching the news knows that things didn't end so smoothly for all needed bills this legislative session. There has been stark disagreement about K-12 legislation, with the governor vetoing the K–12 bill that the Legislature passed. A special session will be needed to resolve these differences and complete other unfinished legislative budget work.)