Driving Change in Higher Education.

Policy Update-May 7, 2012

House bonding bill calls for $20 million in HEAPR funding
Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a $496 million bonding bill. This bill allocates over $132 million to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system, including $20 million set aside for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR). The Senate bonding bill allocates $32 million for HEAPR and the Governor has recommended $20 million. 
 
Governor Dayton signed the Omnibus Higher Education bill into law last week. This legislation includes an increase in MnSCU’s revenue bond authority from $300 million to $405 million, the creation of a MnSCU textbook work group, a provision to allow MnSCU to continue operations during a government shutdown, and a requirement for instructors or departments to notify campus bookstores of course materials at least 45 days before the first day of the term.
 
Congresswoman McCollum and Senator Franken address college affordability
Brian Sanner with Lake Superior College
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (center) at a roundtable session
on student debt.
Congresswoman McCollum met with MSCSA and Minnesota State University Student Association (MSUSA) leaders for a roundtable discussion on student debt at Century College on Monday, April 30. Students shared their experiences about trying to keep up with the rising costs of higher education and the impact of student loan debt. 
 
Michael Flannery, a student at Hennepin Technical College-Eden Prairie, expressed his concern about the debt load students are incurring, "College students are the future and honestly that future looks bleak if we cannot afford to make a house payment, buy a car, or start a family because of our enormous student loan debt burdens."
 
Congresswoman McCollum provided an update on the work being done to make college more affordable at the federal level. Last week, Congress passed legislation to keep Stafford Loan interest rates from doubling. The interest rates are currently scheduled to increase from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1.
 Brian Sanner with Lake Superior CollegeSenator Al Franken hosted a press conference on the doubling of Stafford Loan interest rates and the Understandting the True Cost of College Act.
Senator Al Franken hosted a press conference with MSCSA, MSUSA, and University of Minnesota student representatives to address the doubling on Stafford Loan interest rates. The Senate will take up this issue on May 8.
 
Senator Franken also introduced the Understanding the True Cost of College Act. If enacted, this legislation would create a universal financial aid award letter to allow students to compare financial aid packages from different schools.

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