Higher education budget proposals: Tough going

With a week left in the session, the House and Senate are still conferencing the FY 2010-11 budget for higher education. When it comes to state funding for our state’s public colleges and universities, it’s been a long dry spell.  State general fund investment in higher education funding in FY 2009 is already 16% lower than at the start of the decade – tuition has skyrocketed while state financial aid funding has stagnated.

I don’t see any relief on the horizon. Even with one-time federal stimulus dollars, all proposals would cut state spending on higher education, to varying degrees. Here’s a run-down of the major dollar-related proposals from the Governor, House and Senate (you can download the full spreadsheet of budget items here):

Use of federal economic recovery resources:

The Governor cuts higher education by $400 million in FY 2010-11, then partially backfills those reductions with $362 million in one-time federal economic recovery dollars.

The House cuts higher education by $385 million in FY 2010-11, then partially backfills those reductions with $362 million in one-time federal economic recovery dollars.

The Senate cuts higher education by $221 million in FY 2010-11, then partially backfills those reductions with $118 million in one-time federal economic recovery dollars.

University of Minnesota system and MnSCU system:

After accounting for the one-time federal stimulus dollars, the Governor proposes a net reduction of $9 million for the University of Minnesota and $31 million for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) in FY 2010-11.  However, large cuts come later – in the FY 2012-13 biennium, the Governor cuts higher education funding by 10%.

After accounting for the one-time federal stimulus dollars, the House also proposes a net reduction of $9 million for the University of Minnesota and $31 million for MnSCU in FY 2010-11. In the FY 2012-13 biennium, the House cuts higher education funding by 3%.

After accounting for the one-time federal stimulus dollars, the Senate proposes a net reduction of $55 million for the University of Minnesota and $44 million for MnSCU in FY 2010-11. And there is more pain in the out years – in the FY 2012-13 biennium, the Senate cuts higher education funding by 7%.

Caps on tuition increases:

The Governor recommends a “firm cap” or freeze on tuition increases for MnSCU and the University of Minnesota systems, using federal economic recovery funds to mitigate the need to raise tuition and fees.

The House directs MnSCU to cap tuition increases at 5% per year and directs them to use federal resources to buy it down to a 2% increase.  The House recommends a $300 per year cap on tuition increases at the University of Minnesota.

The Senate directs MnSCU and University of Minnesota to use federal economic recovery funds to mitigate the need to raise tuition and fees.

Financial aid:

Governor:

  • The Governor does not reduce state grant program funding. Instead, the Governor reallocates about $75 million in FY 2010-11 within the state grant program to increase the cost of living adjustment and maximum tuition award to more realistically reflect the cost of attending college.
  • The Governor eliminates state funding for the TEACH program, which improves the quality of child care by providing scholarships for child care providers to obtain a degree in early education.
  • The Governor cuts state work study funding by 5% in the FY 2010-11 biennium.  This program funds 75% of the wages of 11,900 work study students at colleges and universities.
  • The Governor also proposes a 5% cut in FY 2010-11 to post-secondary child care grants and scholarships for low-income American Indian students.

House:

  • The House proposes a small (2%) increase in state grant program funding for FY 2010-11 and also reallocates about $79 million within the state grant program to more realistically reflect the cost of attending college, including increasing the cost of living adjustment, decreasing the student share of tuition responsibility and extending eligibility.
  • The House increases TEACH funding by $100,000 in FY 2010-11, but eliminates funding in FY 2012-13.
  • The House also increases the state work study program by 25% and slightly increases funding for post-secondary child care grants.

Senate:

  • The Senate does not include any reductions in the state grant program, but reallocates $64 million within the program to increase the cost of living adjustment, increase the maximum tuition award and decrease the amount of tuition the family is responsible for.
  • The Senate does not cut TEACH funding.
  • The Senate creates a new summer high school-to-college program and provides one-time grants to students that participate in the program.
  • The Senate does not propose any cuts to workstudy, child care grants or American Indian grants.

Investments in technology:

The Governor proposes a 10% cut in state funding for technology programs that support bandwidth for internet at campuses and allow higher education libraries to share books and electronic resources. The Senate proposes a 6% cut to these programs (although the Senate does not cut funding that supports inter-library loans). The House does not propose any cuts to these programs.

-Katherine Blauvelt

About Katherine Blauvelt

Katherine Blauvelt served as the Minnesota Budget Project’s policy analyst from 2007 to 2009.
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