Minnesota needs to renew investments in higher education

Minnesota has dramatically cut investments in our public universities and colleges in recent years, driving up tuition and undermining the state’s ability to produce the well-educated workforce we need to be competitive.

A new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report shows that since 2008, state funding for Minnesota’s public colleges and universities has dropped by over 30 percent per student when adjusted for inflation, which translates to a $2,600 decrease in state investments per student.

These cuts in state funding have resulted in large tuition increases, making higher education at public colleges and universities much less affordable. Since the start of the recession, average tuition at four-year public colleges in Minnesota has increased by $1,800, when accounting for inflation, or over 20 percent. This large increase is making higher education more inaccessible for many Minnesota students and leaving many others saddled with higher student loan debts.

These numbers are especially troubling when national projections indicate that by 2018, 70 percent of jobs in Minnesota will require a post-secondary education. For Minnesota to meet this need, a college education must remain affordable and accessible for the state’s students.

Governor Dayton’s budget proposal attempts to reverse some of these trends by investing in higher education: increasing funding for financial aid through the state grant program and freezing tuition for the next two academic years at the University of Minnesota.

As the pieces of the final budget are formed, the Legislature should also do its part by restoring higher education funding and raising adequate revenues to invest in both our students and the state’s economic future.

You can find the report, Recent Deep State Higher Education Cuts May Harm Students and the Economy for Years to Come, on the Center on Policy and Budget Priorities’ website.

-Caitlin Biegler

About Clark Biegler

Clark Biegler is the Minnesota Budget Project's policy analyst.
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