Higher Education Budgets Target Tuition Costs

Tim Goral's picture

The Legislature is focusing nearly $3 billion in higher education funding on keeping Minnesota college costs as low as possible.

The House and Senate budget bills unveiled Monday would send more money to the state's grant program for financial aid and give public colleges and universities millions of dollars dedicated to freezing tuition rates for the next two years.

"It's been about 8 years since we've had a positive number in higher education," said Rep. Gene Pelowski, referring to almost a decade of budget cuts to universities and colleges. "I would hope that we focus it and use it wisely."

Both the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities systems asked for about $1.2 billion in funding for the next two years. The Senate's bill nearly meets that request. The House bill chops about $65 million from the university's request and about $12 million from MnSCU's.

Representatives from both schools did not immediately return a request for comment.

The university's budget request has been a source of controversy for months after a December Wall Street Journal article reported that its administration had grown almost twice as fast as the student body in the last decade.

Pelowski, who chairs the House Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee, grilled the university in the last two months about its administrative costs and a reliance on tuition increases to offset reductions from the state, setting the tone for how the school would fare at the Legislature.

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