How new bills will advance racial equity in higher education
Minnesota Education Equity 合作伙伴hip (MnEEP) applauds the historic efforts of the Minnesota House, 参议院, the 高等教育 Finance and Policy Committee, and the 高等教育 committee for advancing tuition-free college for families making $80k or less.
It’s been an honor working alongside the 参议院 高等教育 Committee Chair Omar Fateh, 副主席Aric Putnam, 委员会管理员Sam Parmekar说, 并通知MnEEP团队, 分析, and shape new higher-ed bills to center racial equity.
While the final bill doesn’t contain all of the race equity-centered recommendations MnEEP had been advocating for, it includes the increase from 109% to 115% of poverty on the Living and Miscellaneous Expenses (LME) and the extension of state grant eligibility from 120 to 180 credits.
These are critical pieces MnEEP and the College Race Equity Advocacy Advisory Council (CREAAC) have been advocating for the past four years to advance racial equity in higher education for People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) students.
Extending the credit eligibility in State Grant formula was a critical win for POCI students, who make up a larger share of transfer students, 工作的学生, and students in developmental ed courses and have long been penalized under the previous State Grant formula that ends at 120 total credits.
Changing the existing policy to provide more time and financial aid by giving students enough State Grant eligibility to complete bachelor’s degrees will more proportionally 支持 POCI students and transfer students to complete college and attain a degree.
This policy change will also better 支持 students whose bachelor’s degree programs take more than 120 credits to complete, 比如那些从事教学的人, 护理与工程.
In addition, the new higher-ed bill includes free college for undocumented students. It defines an “eligible student” as a resident student under 136A.101, which includes those who are undocumented.
The change to the state grant aid formula, which has long been a barrier for POCI students, also ensures more undocumented students will have access to higher ed in Minnesota.
At MnEEP, we are grateful these additions were included in the bill and for Sen. Fateh’s commitment to using a race equity lens to build policies that serve more POCI students.
Addressing the debt burden for POCI students
These new policies are a crucial first step for increasing higher-ed access and completion for Minnesota’s growing number of POCI students.
According to the Institute for College Access and Success, in 2019, graduates in Minnesota had the 11th-highest average student-loan debt in the country. Minnesota ranked 5th in the nation in percentage of 2019 graduates with student-loan debt, 66%.
This higher-ed barrier and debt burden has consistently fallen on POCI students, who are disproportionately from lower-income families.
MnEEP research shows lower-income and middle-income POCI students are more likely to take out student loans to finance their half of tuition costs, 费用, 生活, 杂项费用, further exacerbating their debt burden and increasing the chances they will have to work while they attend school and, 潜在的, not complete college by attaining a degree.
While these historic investments in higher education will not entirely rectify years of underinvestment by the state of Minnesota into higher education relative to inflation, it is an important first step toward building a more equitable and just Minnesota.
有针对性地投资教育, 在这种情况下是高等教育, is exactly what we need to 支持 POCI students and communities. Investing in targeted ways in POCI communities is not only good policy, it is morally just and what we need in Minnesota if we are to thrive as a state and as a people.
Onward, forward to a new condition of racial equity and justice.