St. PAUL – The Minnesota House of Representatives has approved a partial tuition freeze for state colleges and universities as part of a higher education funding bill the body passed Sunday. It now heads to Gov. Mark Dayton for his approval.

The bill provides $3 billion in General Fund appropriations – a $166 million increase. This includes $1.3 billion to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, an increase of $101 million over the latest forecast in February. In the package is a tuition freeze in 2016 and a 1-percent reduction in 2017 for two-year schools. The bill also provides a tuition freeze in 2017 for four-year schools.

“We put students first,” said Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, chairman of the House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee. “There hasn’t been a tuition reduction in recent history so I am pleased we can finally provide one. The trend has shifted costs more and more toward students and this bill helps us not only stem that shift, but reverses it.”

In addition to the MnSCU, the bill also funds:

  • U of M: $1.3 billion ($53 million above Feb. forecast and $22 million for tuition relief)
  • Office of Higher Education: $467 million ($19 million below Feb. forecast)
  • Mayo: $2.7 million (even with Feb. forecast)

Policy items in the package include:

  • Conducting year-long student teaching preparation programs.
  • Providing a loan forgiveness program for teachers who work in areas deemed to have a shortage of instructors.
  • Facilitating the transfer of students between associate and bachelor’s degree programs. Developing a plan to encourage students to complete work in their field of study.
  • Revamping requirements pertaining to remedial or non-credit courses.
  • Implementing new measures to respond to sexual harassment, sexual violence and sexual assault on campuses.

“Every student deserves to feel safe on their college campus,” said Rep. Marion O’Neill, R-Maple Lake. “This legislation will move our state in the right direction by protecting, educating and empowering survivors of sexual assault with the ultimate goal of preventing this serious crime from ever taking place. We collaborated with student groups, the University of Minnesota, MnSCU, private colleges and the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault to craft bipartisan legislation that will make a real impact on the safety of Minnesota college students, and I am pleased it passed both the House and Senate.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login