Session Ends. A Higher Education Bill is signed.

After a long session that included a special session, Governor Mark Dayton has signed the Higher Education budget bill. It is the job of the Minnesota legislature to set the state's budget for the next biennium, which is a two-year period of time. This means the Higher Education Bill will fund higher education for the next two years

While the higher education pieces of the state budget have been agreed to and approved, there will likely still be negotiation on several other issues. Upon signing the bill, Governor Dayton sent this letter to leadership to explain his thoughts on the bill. Below are the highlights from the Higher Education budget bill that was passed.

Higher Education Bill Highlights:

In the report, Minnesota State received an additional $106 million over the biennium. The following are a breakdown of how the funding was allocated:

  • Campus Support, funding that would be distributed systemwide to support the campus and keep tuition affordable - $91 million
  • ISRS Next Generation, to upgrade the technology system, system-wide - $8 million
  • Workforce Development Scholarships - $1 million
  • Supplemental aid to non-metro colleges - $6 million

Furthermore, the University of Minnesota an additional $54 million and the Minnesota State Grant received an increase of $36 million. Also, Office of Higher Education received funding to staff a campus sexual violence prevention and response coordinator to serve as a statewide resource providing professional development and guidance on best practices for postsecondary institutions.

 

Tuition

For the 2017-2018 academic year tuition rates can not exceed the previous year’s rate by more than 1 percent. For the 2018-2019 academic year, tuition rates for undergraduates at colleges and universities can not exceed the 2017-2018 rate.

Tuition relief cannot be offset by increases in mandatory fees, but Minnesota State colleges and universities are permitted to increase different tuition charges to cover costs of programs facing increases due to unforeseen and extraordinary circumstances in both FY2018 and FY2019.

The bill also requests a tuition freeze at the University of Minnesota over the biennium, but due to the university’s constitutional autonomy, the state cannot require it to adhere to legislative requests.

 
 

Student Fee Policy

A provision prohibiting mandatory student fees at Minnesota State and University of Minnesota campuses was replaced with a requirement that any student fee increase of more than 2 percent must be put to a student vote. 

If the University of Minnesota raises fees by more than 2 percent without a student vote approval, the amount of money the U of M receives from the legislature would be decreased by 1 percent in the next biennium. However, Minnesota State universities and college must follow this provision. 

 
 

Bonding

Bonding bills are usually passed in the even-numbered years, but this year the legislature approved a bonding bill.

What is a Bonding Bill?
Bonding bills are when the state issues "loans" to construction projects around the state that will then be paid back to the state. As the state sets its budget on a biennial schedule, the year in which the legislature is not working in the state's budget they are working on the state's bonding bills.

In this year's bonding bill, Minnesota State received $25 million to address HEAPR needs on campus and the following projects:

  • South Central College, North Mankato -STEM and Healthcare Renovation
  • Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Fergus Falls - Center for Student Success
  • Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Wadena - Library and Student Development Renovation
  • Northland Community and Technical College, East Grand Forks - Laboratory Renovation
  • Hibbing Community College - Campus Rightsizing
  • Winona State University - Education Village Phase II
  • St. Cloud State University - Student Health and Academic Renovation

 

Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have regarding the Higher Education Bill. You can contact me at sberns@studentsunited.org. 

Sarah Berns