Final Higher Education Bill Heads to Governor Dayton – May 17, 2015

Good evening. The Senate approved the higher education conference committee report this afternoon by a vote of 57-8; and the House approved it this evening by a vote of 71-57. It now heads to Governor Mark Dayton for consideration. Click here for the final report.

Included in the bill for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities is $100 million for student tuition relief at the colleges and universities, which is 70 percent of MnSCU’s $142 million request. The two-year college tuition rates are frozen both years of the biennium with a 1% reduction the second year; and the four-year state universities tuition is frozen the second year of the biennium with no tuition language the first year of the biennium. The final agreement also includes funding that impacts MnSCU as follows:

  • $115,000 in funding for MnSCU to implement new transfer pathways for associate of arts degrees, associate of science degrees, and associate of fine arts degrees that will lead to baccalaureate degree programs. A report is due to the Legislature by March 15, 2016 regarding the status.
  • $35,000 each year of the biennium to implement a program to assist foreign-born students and groups underrepresented in nursing to succeed in postsecondary nursing programs at Minneapolis Community and Technical College and Century College, as well as at two colleges or universities in greater Minnesota.
  • $175,000 each year of the biennium to establish a veterans-to-agriculture pilot program at South Central College. FY2016 funds are to be used to establish the South Central College’s program and the FY2017 funds are to be used to support up to six program sites statewide.
  • $225,000 (one-time appropriation) each year of the biennium to create and develop a teacher preparation program leading to licensure in agricultural education at Southwest Minnesota State University.
  • $50,000 each year of the biennium to develop and teach online agriculture courses by farm business management faculty at colleges that offer farm business management.
  • $40,000 to MnSCU each year of the biennium to implement the sexual assault policies required in the bill.
  • $200,000 in FY2016 for a year-long student teaching pilot program at MnSCU institutions. There is further language in the bill that states teacher preparation programs may use the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities program model to provide a school year-long student teaching program that combines clinical opportunities with academic coursework and in-depth student teaching experiences to offer students ongoing mentorship, coaching and assessment, help to prepare a professional development plan, and structured learning experiences.
  • $18,000 additional funds each year for a transfer to the Cook County Higher Education Board to provide educational programming and academic support services to remote regions in northeastern Minnesota.
  • $250,000 for College Possible to support programs of college admission and college graduation for low-income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support at both the high school and postsecondary level.
  • $1 million in FY2016 and $2 million in FY2017 for dual training competency grants through the Office of Higher Education.
  • $200,000 for dual training competency grants to the Department of Labor and Industry for identification of competency standards for dual training.
  • $340,000 each year of the biennium for grants to develop new concurrent enrollment courses that satisfy the elective standard for career and technical education and grants to postsecondary institutions currently sponsoring a concurrent enrollment course to expand existing programs.

The bill includes the Senate language regarding performance funding, and withholds 5% of the fiscal year 2017 appropriation until MnSCU meets the measures. Conferees amended the original Senate language to now read 100% of the funding will be released if MnSCU meets three, four or five of the goals; 67% of the funding will be released if two of the goals are met; 33% if one goal is met; and 0% if none of the goals are met. Conferees also amended the goals for MnSCU. They final goals are:

(1) increase by at least four percent in fiscal year 2015, compared to fiscal year 2008, degrees, diplomas, and certificates conferred and provide a report to the chairs and ranking minority members of the legislative committees with jurisdiction over higher education on the separate changes in the number of degrees, diplomas, and certificates conferred;

(2) increase by at least five percent the fiscal year 2015-related employment rate for 2014 graduates, compared to the 2011 rate for 2010 graduates;

(3) for fiscal year 2016, reallocate $22,000,000 of costs. The Board of Trustees is requested to redirect those funds to invest in direct mission activities, stem growth in tuition and student fees, and to programs that benefit students;

(4) decrease by at least ten percent the fiscal year 2015 headcount of students enrolled in developmental courses compared to fiscal year 2013 headcount of students enrolled in developmental courses; and

(5) increase by at least five percent the fiscal year 2015 degrees awarded to students who took no more than 128 credits for a baccalaureate degree and 68 credits for associate in arts, associate of science, or associate in fine arts degrees, as compared to the rate for 2011 graduates.

The bill includes the Senate provision that requires MnSCU to adopt a written public policy that outlines the presidential selection process, and encourages all stakeholders to engage in developing the policy.

In regards to the provision that was in the Senate bill, providing $24 million to the Office of Higher Education for tuition assistance for students attending a two-year MnSCU college and taking a high demand program as defined by DEED, the final bill includes $5 million in 2017 for the college program grants and mentoring and outreach. $3.5 million of the $5 million is ongoing into fiscal year 2018, but after 2018, there is no additional funding.

In addition to the concurrent enrollment funding mentioned above, there is language that states postsecondary institutions that offer concurrent enrollment programs and are members in the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP), must report all required NACEP evaluative survey results by September 1 of each year to the Office of Higher Education and the Department of Education. Also, all concurrent enrollment programs must have 16-member advisory boards in addition to a concurrent enrollment faculty coordinator who shall serve as the chair and convene the meetings. The advisory boards are to engage stakeholders in concurrent enrollment decisions.  And by the 2020-2021 school year, concurrent enrollment programs must be NACEP accredited.

The Senate language is included that sets a higher education statewide attainment goal of the number of Minnesota residents ages 25 to 44 years ,who hold postsecondary degrees or certificates, should be increased to at least 70 percent by 2025. Every October 15, the Office of Higher Education is to report to the Legislature on the progress towards meeting that goal.

The bill includes the House language that establishes a teacher shortage loan forgiveness program. A teacher is eligible for the program if the teacher is teaching in a licensure field and in an economic development region with an identified teacher shortage. Also included in the bill is the House language regarding placement in remediation and the testing process for determining if remediation for a student is necessary.

There is language in the bill that requires MnSCU to report to the Legislature on its activities and achievements related to the goal of improving timely completion of degrees and certificates. The report is to include many data sets including the percent of students placed in remedial education; the percent of students who complete remediation within one academic year; the percent of students that complete college-level gateway courses in one academic year; the percent of students who complete 30 semester credits per academic year; the student retention rate; time to complete a degree or certificate; and credits earned by those completing a degree or certificate or other program. Additional language related to completion includes a provision that requires MnSCU to develop a comprehensive plan to encourage students to complete degrees, diplomas, or certificates in their fields of study. MnSCU is to consult with students, faculty, and administrators of the state colleges and universities and the Office of Higher Education to create a plan that would increase program completion at each state college or university.

The final bill also includes the language regarding campus sexual assault, and requires postsecondary institutions, among other things, to provide comprehensive sexual assault training to students and document the student’s completion of the training.

Regarding the state grant program, the final bill sets the living and miscellaneous expense allowance(LME) at the poverty level and increases the tuition and fee maximum cap to the highest public university level. We will provide further information regarding the impact of the state grant program to MnSCU students.

I will send a more comprehensive summary in the coming days of all legislation that passed during the 2015 session that impacts Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. In the meantime, mark your calendars – the 2016 legislative session is scheduled to begin March 8.

Have a good evening,


Melissa Fahning
Director of Legislative Communications
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
651-201-1757 (work) 612-483-3741 (cell)



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