MARSHALL — Minnesota’s state college and university system is calling for a tuition freeze with its upcoming budget request. A proposal to secure $350 million in additional state funding over the next biennium was presented to the Minnesota State Board of Directors on Wednesday.
The proposed budget request said the $350 million would help stabilize colleges and universities, while offsetting a tuition freeze.
Minnesota’s 33 state colleges and universities have faced declining enrollment at the same time as rising inflationary costs. This year, enrollment is down 3.8% systemwide, Minnesota state leaders said Wednesday.
The proposed budget request requests that the additional $350 million be allocated to Minnesota’s 2024 and 2025 fiscal years. The request includes $125 million to stabilize budgets for colleges and universities in the Minnesota state system.
Of the additional state appropriation, $77 million would allow the state of Minnesota to freeze tuition where it currently stands, as well as expand free educational resources for students, according to the proposal. The funding would also go toward investments in education to help grow Minnesota’s workforce.
Southwest Minnesota State University President Kumara Jayasuriya said Thursday that the proposed budget request and tuition freeze would help students access higher education.
“The budget request is an investment not just in SMSU, but in the entire state of Minnesota, so that we can support our students and provide them with the educational opportunities they need to actively participate in the workforce and to the economy of our state, Jayasuriya said. “SMSU is committed to helping our students and their families keep the cost of higher education affordable. The tuition freeze coupled with increased access to emergency grants and additional scholarships will hopefully encourage more students to choose us and stay in our communities.
The proposed budget request includes $10 million for student emergency relief grants, as well as $12 million in scholarships for transfer students and $25.5 million for workforce development scholarships. work.
The proposal said the additional state funding would also help pay for expanded student support services, as well as college and university equipment upgrades and curriculum development focused on high-demand occupations.
The final version of the budget request will be presented to the Minnesota State Board of Directors in November for approval. The request would then be presented to state lawmakers in the next legislative session.