2017 Higher Education Omnibus Bill Side by Side: Where does Students United Stand?


 

The omnibus higher education appropriations and policy bill is currently in conference committee. Make sure this bill reflects the needs of Minnesota State university students, by sending an action alert to conference committee members.

 

the fuss with the omnibus

Elementary school students have many valid concerns- like learning the complicated responsibility of riding the school bus- similarly, higher education students have many valid concerns related to a bus that’s just a little less yellow- the omnibus. An omnibus bill is a piece of legislation comprised of many smaller bills which fall under a broad category- in this case, higher education. The omnibus higher education appropriations and policy bill is currently in conference committee, where committee members will be drafting the final version of the omnibus bill.

The conference committee is responsible for reviewing the differences between the proposed House and Senate higher education bills and resolving these differences to create one combined document that can be voted on and sent to the Governor for final approval.  

This omnibus bill has the power to shape higher education policy and finance for years to come- issues like Minnesota State Grant funding and tuition costs can significantly affect the success of students in higher ed, and are discussed in this years omnibus bill. Much like students had to learn how to ride the school bus in elementary school, it’s our responsibility as University students to learn how to influence higher education policies which will benefit all higher education students in Minnesota.

overview of higher education omnibus bill

A few key issues that are being discussed in the higher education finance and policy omnibus bill are mapped out below- along with the implications these provisions have on the future for higher education students, and where Students United stands on these issues.


Issue: Minnesota State Appropriations

House

Appropriates $93.6 million above base.

Article 1, Sec. 3, Subd. 1

Senate

Appropriates $53 million above base.

Article 1, Sec. 3, Subd. 1

Background Information

Minnesota State requested $178 million to

  • Protect programs and campuses, $143 million
  • Replace obsolete technology platform, $25 million
  • Advance student success, $10 million

Students United believes the best form of financial aid is low tuition. Students advocated for affordability at the capitol during Advocacy Day and have testified on the issue.


Issue: College and University Tuition Rates

House

At colleges, tuition is frozen in FY2018 and must be reduced by at least one percent in FY 2019. At universities, tuition is frozen in FY 2019.

Article 1, Sec. 3, Subd. 2

Senate

Freezes tuition in both FY 2018 and FY 2019 at both colleges and universities.

Article 1, Sec. 3, Subd. 2

Background information:

Minnesota State Board of Trustees opposes the state legislatures attempt to place restrictions on tuition rates that would prevent them from responding to local campus tuition recommendations.


Students United believes low tuition is the best form of financial aid, and we support the Legislature that invests in Minnesota’s future by keeping yesterday’s promise- that entails keeping higher education affordable and accessible for all students. Students United supports the commitment to funding 67% of the cost of public postsecondary education as enshrined in Minnesota Statute Section 135A.01, which is currently 20% higher than the current commitment provided.


Issue: Student Fees

House

Prohibits imposing on students any mandatory fee funding non-instructional student programs, activities, groups or services.

Article 2, Sec. 4

Senate

Not included

 

 

Background information:

Minnesota State supports the senate language on student fees.

Students United opposes the language regarding the prohibition of mandatory fees - student life and student organizations play a vital role in the retention of students and the vitality of student programs.  These programs foster student development and participation at our universities and statewide student associations- the language currently included in this House bill would cause devastating and destructive effects that will be felt for years to come.


Issue: Minnesota State Grant

House

Proposed $13 million for Minnesota State Grant

Senate

Proposed $5 million for Minnesota State Grant

Background information:

State Grants aid students from low- and moderate-income families pay for educational expenses at eligible Minnesota colleges or universities. In Fiscal Year 2015, approximately:

  • 36% of State Grant recipients have family incomes below $20,000
  • 37% have incomes between $20,000 and $50,000
  • 27% have incomes over $50,000.                                        (Data provided by OHE)

Students United supports funding for the Minnesota State Grant that students rely on- high debt places a significant burden on students and limits their participation as consumers and taxpayers. The State Grant reduces the need for students to borrow, and increasing the Living and Miscellaneous Expense (LME) Allowance ensures that those who need the most help receive it.

Maddy Wegener