Legislative Update – February 1, 2017

Updates from the Minnesota Legislature

Higher Education

The House Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance Committee Tuesday reviewed results from the Student Loan Repayment Counseling pilot program, created by the Legislature in 2015 and managed by the Office of Higher Education.

The program provides supplemental support by way of financial counseling, education and assistance through additional resources. “Based on the needs we have seen, and the successful track record we have had, we hope the Legislature will continue to support this model,” said Cate Rysavy, senior director of financial services for Lutheran Social Services, which was chosen as the counseling agent. The results also found that after contacting Lutheran Social Services, 94 percent of borrowers remained current with loan repayment, 97 percent developed a monthly budget, 86 percent felt more comfortable regarding repayment options and 80 percent said payments were now more affordable. 

No action was taken. A bill to extend the program’s funding is expected later in session.

In the same meeting, committee members were introduced to student and staff leadership of the two Minnesota State student associations.

On behalf of Students United (formerly known as MSUSA), Joseph Wolf, State Chair (current student at Minnesota State University, Mankato) and Dhibo Hussein, Students United board member, and student body president and current student at Metropolitan State University. Their overview presentation included a focus on affordable tuition, increased retention, and lower student loan debt, and asked the Legislature to honor Minnesota State Statute 135A.01 Funding Policy, which states:
It is the policy of the legislature to provide stable funding for public postsecondary    institutions and that the state and students share the cost of public postsecondary education. The legislature intends to provide at least 67 percent of the combined revenue from tuition, the university fee at the University of Minnesota, and state general fund appropriations to public postsecondary institutions. It is also the policy of the legislature that the budgetary process serves to support high quality public postsecondary education.

Students United also asked for increased funding for the state grant program, and Minnesota State bonding requests. Dhibo Hussein testified on behalf of those who stand the most to gain from public higher education, including working families and disadvantaged communities, citing barriers like tuition, textbook affordability, support services, career readiness, training, and networking opportunities as obstacles against degree completion.  A video recording of this meeting, including Dhibo’s story, is available HERE.

Read more…

Questions? Contact the Government Relations Team:

Jaime Simonsen
Bernie Omann
Jim Grathwol


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