House Passes Higher Education Bill Taxing Students and Increasing Debt. Pelowski Says Now Isn’t The Time For Tuition Hikes.

Posted by HBC Newsdesk April 28, 2015

Monday night, the Minnesota House passed an Omnibus Higher Education bill that Democrats say will lead to tuition increases and more debt for Minnesota students. DFLers say the bill upends the progress made over the last two years, when tuition was frozen for all Minnesota students at public colleges and universities. Over 67,000 students at the U of M will see tuition hikes as a result of this bill and all students at four-year MnSCU campuses can expect a tuition hike as well. The bill passed Monday doesn’t contain tuition assistance for students at the University of Minnesota, doesn’t freeze tuition at either of Minnesota’s public university systems, and raids more than $50 million from the State Grant program.

“With a projected budget surplus of $1.9 billion, now isn’t the time to burden our college students with the most regressive tax we have: tuition increases,” said State Rep. Gene Pelowski (DFL-Winona), House Minority Lead on House Higher Education Finance and Policy committee. “If enacted, the House Republican’s bill would lead to increased tuition for Minnesota’s students and a crippling increase in debt.”

In 2013, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota House were able to enact the first budget increase for higher education in more than a decade. They froze tuition for every single undergraduate students attending one of Minnesota’s public universities and increased state grant funds for thousands of students. If the bill passed tonight were to become law, tuition will increase by at least 3%, leading to fewer students choosing to stay in Minnesota and harder time for those who do.

The bill also shifts more than $50 million out of the State Grant Program. Nearly 80% of State Grant Funds go to students whose families make less than $50,000 a year, making it our best way to make college affordable for average students.

“We’ve never had a cut to the State Grant Program, and shifting more than $50 million out of that program will only serve to pile debt on those who can least afford it,” said Pelowski. “Making higher education more accessible and affordable is part of the economic success that produced the $1.9 billion surplus. This bill puts all of the progress we’ve made in jeopardy.”

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