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Minnesota House Approves Higher Education Conference Committee Report

Friday, May 17, 2024

St. Paul, MN - Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the conference committee report for House File 4024, containing the Higher Education Policy and Supplemental Budget legislation. The bill, authored by State Representative Gene Pelowski (DFL - Winona), passed on a bipartisan vote of 72-57. The report now heads to the Minnesota Senate. 

“This legislation is the culmination of our committee’s work for this year, collaborating with our colleagues in the Senate to pass a bill that makes higher education more accessible for students,” said Rep. Pelowski, who serves as Chair of the House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee. “No matter a student’s background, the doors to higher learning should be open to all Minnesotans. Our final bill builds off of last year’s record investment that is already producing results at our state’s colleges and universities.”

Last year, the Higher Education Committee passed a record funding increase for Minnesota’s colleges and universities that froze tuition at Minnesota State for two years, fully funded the University of Minnesota’s systemwide safety and security request, and provided free college to students with household income under $80,000, among other investments. Earlier this session, it was reported to the committee that enrollment across the Minnesota State system is up for the first time in over a decade. 

This year, the bulk of new investment went towards the Kids on Campus Initiative. The provision invests $500,000 in the Minnesota State system to establish Head Start Programs on college campuses, providing access to affordable childcare to students. 

The budget also transfers $5 million to the Fostering Independence Grant program, which saw a funding shortfall due to an increased need. The Fostering Independence Grant program is a financial aid program that seeks to eliminate financial barriers for Minnesota students who were in the foster care system to attend college.

The legislation also allows the Office of Higher Education to grant up to $15 million from the Tomassoni ALS Research and Caregiver Support Funding to the ALS Association to issue competitive research grants. 

Notable policies in the bill include “Ban the Box” legislation to reduce barriers to higher education for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, updates to existing law supporting students with disabilities, and adding the energy sector to the state’s workforce development scholarship program.

The conference committee agreement can be found here. A spreadsheet of investments can be found here. Video of today’s House Floor debate can be found on the House Public Information YouTube channel


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