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S.F. No. 306 - Providing for a Student Loan Debt Counseling Grant
Author: Senator Rich Draheim
Prepared By: Joan White, Senate Counsel (651/296-3814)
Date: February 19, 2019


S.F. No. 306 establishes a grant to an organization offering student loan debt counseling.  The Office of Higher Education (OHE) will administer the grant program.  The 2015 Legislature appropriated $150,000 to OHE for a temporary student loan debt counseling pilot program.  The pilot program grant was awarded to Lutheran Social Services.  The program established in this bill is similar to the pilot program established in 2015.  The language from this bill was in the 2018 Omnibus bill vetoed by the Governor.

Section 1 (136A.1788, subdivision 1) establishes an OHE program to provide a grant to  a qualified debt counseling organization for student loan debt repayment counseling to Minnesota residents who obtained loans from Minnesota postsecondary institutions.

Subdivision 2 defines the term “qualified debt counseling organization.”

Subdivision 3 specifies grant application requirements, which include specific program goals and performance measures for each goal, and how services will be evaluated to determine if goals are met, to name a couple.  This subdivision also requires the commissioner to select a grant recipient for a two-year award.  A grant may be renewed biennially.

Subdivision 4 requires the grant recipient to submit a report to the commissioner by January 15 that evaluates and measures the extent to which program outcome goals under subdivision 3 have been met, and requires the grant recipient to collect and analyze certain data, and include other general information in the report. Recipients of counseling must be surveyed on their opinions and the usefulness of the counseling, and the survey results must be included in the report.

Subdivision 5 requires the commissioner of OHE to report to the Legislature by February 1 of the second year of each grant award regarding grant program outcomes.

Section 2 is a blank appropriation from the general fund to the commissioner of OHE for the program established in section 1.

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