Today Governor Walz released his administration’s budget proposal for the 2022-23 biennial budget. Here are some of the highlights for Minnesota’s community and technical college students.
Funding for Minnesota State
The Governor’s budget proposes an increase of $61 million for Minnesota State in campus responsiveness and stabilization funds to support campus expenses. This proposed increase represents a 4% increase in the funding.
Supporting Students Basic
Needs $2.5 million in funding to address students’ basic needs. This funding would be used to provide “Stigma -free and online mental health assessment tools and mental health first aid type resources.” It would also fund the creation of a statewide information hub to connect students to resources in their local communities that can help address basic needs and provide students with referrals if resources are not available on campus. These proposals align with LeadMN’s 2021 legislative agenda and the work we are doing to introduce legislation on mental health support and access to basic needs resources.
State Grant Program
Governor Walz’s budget proposes to exempt developmental education credits from counting towards State Grant term limits. This would ensure that students don’t run out of financial aid eligibility for the State Grant due to having to take developmental education courses.
It also includes an additional $3.15 million each year to maintain the current Living and Miscellaneous Expense (LME) allowance portion of the state grant formula, which was increased temporarily for one-year by the Office of Higher Education. This was done to spend down remaining State Grant fund and resulted in full time students being awarded an additional $193. Governor Walz’s budget would make that change permanent.
Minnesota Workforce Stabilization Grants
One of the largest proposals included in the Governor’s higher education proposal is $17.5 million each year for the creation of the Minnesota Workforce Stabilization Grant program. This program would help Minnesotans impacted by the pandemic pursue their postsecondary goals, by providing eligible students a tuition free path to education and training. This program would be a “last dollar” grant covering any remaining tuition and fees after other grant aid is applied. Students would also be able to have book costs covered. These grants would only be eligible to students who attend a public or tribal college.
Students would be able to be eligible for the grants in two ways:
- “Workers impacted by COVID - Limited to Minnesota residents with a high school diploma or equivalent who have worked in a critical industry, have been eligible to apply for unemployment benefits or pandemic unemployment, or are “at risk” due to their employment in a relatively instable industry. Income limit is $80,000, based on family adjusted gross income.
- Lower-income students whose education was negatively impacted by COVID. Income limit $50,000, based on family adjusted gross income. “ It is estimated that nearly 20,300 students would benefit from the program. In the past LeadMN has supported similar programs like the Minnesota State Workforce Scholarship Program and our 2019 Minnesota College Promise legislation.
Emergency Assistance for Postsecondary Students (EAPS)
$650,000 a year for Emergency Grants is included. This will allow the office of higher education to expand the program and provide funding to more colleges and universities across the state. In past years LeadMN has testified in support of expanding this program and has included support for expanding emergency grants in our 2021 legislative agenda.
Postsecondary Childcare Grant Program
Improvements Included are changes to streamline the Postsecondary Childcare Grants to students and ensure that more low-income students who need childcare assistance have access to these funds. Each year approximately $1 million in grants go unused due to the complexity of the current grant program. In recognition of the challenges that students have faced over the years with the Childcare Grant Program, LeadMN has included support for simplifying the grant process in our 2021 legislative agenda to make sure that our student parents can get the support they need.
Direct Admissions Minnesota
$1 million in funding for a new Direct Admissions program is included in the budget proposal. This new program would create a direct admissions process for graduating high school seniors at Minnesota College and Universities. Students would be mailed a letter indicating what colleges they have been admitted to based on their GPA, ACT/SAT, course taking, or a combination of these measures. In this letter students would also be provided with additional steps to “save their spot” at the college using a free application. This program will help students access higher education in Minnesota more easily and increase student’s awareness of what institutions they may be eligible to attend.
More information about the Governor’s budget proposal can be found here: https://mn.gov/mmb/budget/current-budget/governors-budget-recommendations/