LeadMN Executive Director Mike Dean is quoted in the Star Tribune about the need to pass a free college program in the closing weeks of the legislative session.

Minnesota lawmakers are poised to give the state's public colleges and universities hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding — enough to cover many of their requests, but likely not all of them.

With Democrats in control of the State Capitol and a historic surplus, leaders of the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities submitted the largest funding requests in years. Lawmakers, in sometimes pointed hearings, have pushed them to justify why they need more funding amid enrollment declines.

Halfway through the session, higher education advocates say they're cautiously optimistic and still hoping for more.

"I think there still is work to be done there," said Mike Dean, executive director of LeadMN, which represents students at two-year colleges. The group is hoping this will be the year that lawmakers enact a program to provide free college tuition for more Minnesota students.

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