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Minnesota State system request funds for campus stability, equity

Minnesota State system leaders say they’re prioritizing campus stability in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and striving for equity and affordability.

Representatives delivered their $120 million request in new funding for the upcoming biennium to the House Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee Wednesday.

The system, comprised of 30 colleges and seven universities, would use the majority of that funding, $75 million, to support increases in campus expenses resulting from the pandemic and inflationary costs over the biennium, according to Bill Maki, vice chancellor for finance and facilities.  

“Minnesota State's role … in helping the state's economic recovery is based on having an adequate amount of programs and services across the state to meet the needs of our students, and the communities they serve,” he said.  

The remaining $45 million would be split among programs focused on equity and affordability:

  • $23 million for scholarships to support economically vulnerable students;
  • $15 million to support students basic needs and mental health;
  • $6 million for career and technical education support; and
  • $1 million for open education resources, cost-free textbook and class materials for students.

Maki referenced a recent college survey that highlighted how the pandemic is impacting students’ ability to meet their basic needs. Among those surveyed, 37% of students responded that they had experienced food insecurity, 48% experienced housing insecurity and 18% experienced homelessness. Students from marginalized communities were more likely to have experienced insecurities than white students.

Members had a variety of questions regarding current programming and future programming. Additionally, Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R-Nisswa) asked what cost-reduction plans the system has in place if its funding request isn’t met.   

Many of the colleges and universities are in the process of budget restructuring right now and implementing cost reductions, Maki said.

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