Committee passes omnibus higher ed bill, UMN funding increase – Minnesota Daily

The bill, which was approved by the House Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee, gives the University of Minnesota a 14% funding increase over the next two fiscal years.
CJ Bonk
The Minnesota State Capitol Building on Saturday, Jan. 28.
by Olivia Hines

On Thursday, the state House of Representatives Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee passed the omnibus higher education and finance bill. The bill includes a 14% increase in funding, or nearly $1.6 billion, for the University of Minnesota over the next two fiscal years.
The bill was referred to the Way and Means Committee, where if approved, it will go to a vote in the House.
The committee approved an amendment to costs of some programs listed in the bill. The University was allocated about $194 million more than the about $726 million granted in the initial version of the bill.
The University received almost 20% more than their $302.5 million ask. The Minnesota State system received an even bigger increase in funding for the coming biennium with a total of $1.9 billion.
About $1.4 billion of the funding would be allocated to the University’s operations and maintenance. The bill specifies where about $65 million of this should go toward, including funding for the Medical School’s research, health training restoration and campus safety.
Specifically, $5 million would be dedicated annually to fund systemwide safety and security, which would decrease to a base of $2 million starting fiscal year 2026.
The bill also allocated about $18 million to the University’s Health Sciences over the two fiscal years, which will help fund programs aiming to improve rural health care in Minnesota.
Additionally, the bill established the American Indian Scholars program, which would provide tuition and fee free undergraduate education to eligible Minnesota American Indian students at a University of Minnesota campus or Minnesota State college or university.
The program was allocated a total of $17 million over the two fiscal years, $8 million of which the University would receive.
Eligible students for the program would include Minnesota residents who are enrolled members or citizens of a federally recognized American Indian Tribe or Canadian First Nation. Nonresidents would also be eligible if they enrolled members or citizens of a Minnesota Tribal Nation.
Rep. Kristen Robbins (R-Maple Grove) said the American Indian Scholars Program is “duplicative of something we already do at Morris” and certain programs outlined in the bill should be consolidated.
In response to the presentation of the omnibus bill in a committee meeting March 28, the University’s Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Myron Frans said “collectively, we appreciate your support and your understanding of the issues and challenges that we face.”
Dennis Olson, the commissioner for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, testified during the March 28 meeting that he appreciates the bill’s support of financial aid modifications, which he said will help more low-income students attend college.
“The proposed investments in this bill address student needs and will help campus leaders and faculty provide students a world class education,” Olson said.
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