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S.F. No. 2415 - Higher Education Omnibus Bill (Minnesota Laws 2019, Chapter 64)
 
Author: Senator Paul T. Anderson
 
Prepared By: Joan White, Senate Counsel (651/296-3814)
 
Date: May 28, 2019



 

This act was signed into law by Governor Tim Walz on May 22, 2019.  This Higher Education Omnibus Bill was the only omnibus funding bill that passed during the regular 2019 legislative session.

Article 1 – Appropriations

Article 1 contains the appropriations to the Office of Higher Education, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and the University of Minnesota. In addition, article 1 includes the following policy:

Section 3, subdivision 3, requires the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to establish tuition rates as follows:

(a)  The tuition rate for colleges and for undergraduates at universities for the 2019-2020 academic year must not exceed the 2018-2019 academic year rate by more than three percent, and the 2020-2021 rate must not exceed the 2019-2020 rate by more than three percent.

(b)  Notwithstanding paragraph (a), the university with the lowest 2018-2019 academic year banded tuition rate may increase its tuition to a rate up to or equal to the 2019-2020 rate of the university with the second lowest 2018-2019 academic year banded tuition rate. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the tuition rate must not exceed the 2019-2020 rate by more than three percent.

(c)  For the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years, the differential tuition rate for online courses must not exceed the 2018-2019 academic year rate.

Section 4, subdivision 2, requests that the Board of Regents establish tuition rates as follows:

(a)  It is requested that the tuition rate for resident undergraduate tuition in 2019-2020 academic year not to exceed the 2018-2019 academic year rate by more than three percent, and for the 2020-2021 academic year, at a rate not to exceed the 2019-2020 tuition rate by three percent.

(b)  It is requested that the differential tuition rate and fees for online courses for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 academic years not exceed the 2018-2019 academic year rate and fees.

Article 2 – Higher Education

Section 1 (13.322, subd. 3) amends the Data Practices Act by adding a cross-reference to sections 27 and 35, which classify data collected from student complaints as private data.

Section 2 (127A.70, subd. 2) integrates the Early Childhood Longitudinal Data System (ECLDS) into the statute that establishes the Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (SLEDS).

Section 3 (135A.15, subd. 2) amends the postsecondary education chapter of law, specifically the sexual harassment and violence policy section related to victims’ rights.  This section requires public and private postsecondary institutions to notify sexual assault victims about information on free legal resources and services.

Section 4 (136A.101, subd. 5a) modifies the definition of “assigned family responsibility” (AFR), which is the family’s contribution to a student’s cost of attending a postsecondary institution.  For dependent students, the AFR is changed from 84 to 82 percent of the parental contribution. For independent students with dependents other than a spouse, the AFR is changed from 76 to 74 percent of the student contribution.  For independent students without dependents other than a spouse, the AFR is changed from 40 to 38 percent of the student contribution.

Section 5 (136A.121, subd. 6) modifies the state grant cost of attendance, specifically the living and miscellaneous expense allowance (LME), by changing the LME from 101 percent to 106 percent of the federal poverty guidelines for a single person household for a nine-month period.

Section 6 (135A.1215) allows the Office of Higher Education (OHE) to set a maximum grant amount for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and if the appropriation is insufficient, the commissioner must reduce the maximum grant.

Section 7 (136A.123) establishes the MN Reconnect Program.

Subdivision 1 requires the commissioner of OHE to administer the MN Reconnect Program, which is a program to encourage adult learners between the ages of 25 and 62 who have not been enrolled in a higher education institution in at least two years to complete their degrees.

Subdivision 2 defines terms.

Subdivision 3 specifies application guidelines for prospective students to apply for a grant.

Subdivision 4 requires the commissioner to make grants, up to the extent of available funds, to eligible students.

 Subdivision 5 allows two-year institutions within the MinnState system to apply to become a participating institution.

 Subdivision 6 allows participating institutions to receive funds for student advising, resolving student financial aid holds, and improving services to adult learners.

Section 8 (136A.1275, subd. 2) amends the teacher candidate grant program to clarify how to determine “intent” to work in a shortage area.

Section 9 (136A.1275, subd. 3) clarifies that an unrepresented racial or ethnic group is based on the Minnesota teacher workforce, strikes unenforceable language, and makes other clarifying changes.

Section 10 (136A.15, subd. 8) amends the definition of “eligible student” to consolidate into this subdivision language from a provision that is repealed in this bill that defined the same term in this chapter.

Section 11 (136A.16, subd. 1) corrects cross-references related to the SELF Refi program.

Section 12 (136A.16, subd. 2) amends existing rulemaking authority to allow the Office of Higher Education (OHE) to prescribe appropriate rules and conditions to carry out the purposes of the student loan program, and strikes references to a federal loan program that no longer exists.

Sections 13 to 16 (136A.16, subds. 5, 8, and 9, 136A.162) correct cross-references related to the SELF Refi program.

Section 17 (136A.1701, subd. 7) adds language giving OHE the flexibility to determine repayment terms of loans and strikes prescriptive loan repayment terms.

Section 18 (136A.1788, subd. 1) establishes the Student Loan Debt Counseling Program under OHE.  This section directs OHE to provide a grant to a qualified debt counseling organization to provide counseling services to Minnesota residents who obtained loans from a postsecondary institution.

Subdivision 2 defines the term “qualified debt counseling organization,” which is an organization that has experience in providing student loan counseling, employs certified financial counselors, and is based in Minnesota with multiple rural and metropolitan locations.

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 19 (136A.1789, subd. 1) amends the aviation degree loan forgiveness program definitions.  Paragraph (b) narrows the definition of “qualified aircraft technician” by requiring the person to have earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree preparing the individual for an aviation mechanic’s certificate.  Current law allows a person with any associate’s or bachelors’ degree to be eligible.

Paragraph (c) expands the definition of “qualified education loan” to include reasonable educational and living expenses related to the postsecondary education of the qualified aircraft technician or qualified pilot.  Current law only allows loans for tuition for a professional flight training degree from a Minnesota postsecondary institution.

Paragraph (d) narrows the definition of “qualified pilot” by requiring the person to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree preparing the individual for an airline transport pilot certificate.  The requirement that the degree be in professional flight training is stricken.

Section 20 (136A.1789, subd. 3) requires an applicant who is selected to participate in the aviation degree loan forgiveness program to sign a contract to agree to serve a five-year full-time service obligation, instead of a minimum of one year.

Section 21 (136A.1789, subd. 5) requires an aviation degree loan forgiveness program participant to provide verification that the final disbursement was applied toward the designated qualified education loan within 12 months, instead of six months, of receipt of the final disbursement. If verification is not received, the commissioner must collect the total amount paid under the loan forgiveness program plus interest.  Current law requires the commissioner to collect the amount of the final disbursement.

Section 22 (136A.64, subd. 1) requires private and out-of-state public schools to provide to OHE information related to the school’s disclosure to students on the student complaint process.

Section 23 (136A.64, subd. 5) provides that all information submitted to OHE is public except for certain records, student complaint data, and reports specified in this section.  Allows OHE to disclose records to law enforcement or in connection with a legal or administrative proceeding, under certain circumstances.

Section 24 (136A.64, subd. 8) requires private and out-of-state public schools to disclose on the school’s website, and in the school’s student handbook and student catalog, the student complaint process.

Section 25 (136A.645) amends private and out-of-state public institution provisions by modifying the school closure procedures in order to improve student protections when institutions close.

Section 26 (136A.646) requires new private or out-of-state public schools that are not yet accredited to provide a surety bond equal to ten percent of the net revenue from tuition and fees in the prior fiscal year, but not less than $10,000, and requires the Office of Higher Education to reduce the surety requirement under certain circumstances, subject to the minimum and maximum in this paragraph.

Section 27 (136A.672, subd. 6) classifies student complaint data as private data under chapter 13 for private and out-of-state public institutions.

Sections 28 to 35 amend provisions related to private career schools.

Section 28 (136A.821, subd. 18) defines the term “clock hour.”

Section 29 (136A.821, subd. 19) defines the term “student record” to specify what must be included in the transcript or record of a student.

Section 30 (136A.822, subd. 6) is a technical change; replaces the word “income” with “revenue.”

Section 31 (136A.822, subd. 10) requires that prior to issuing a license to a private career school, the school must provide OHE with a catalog, brochure, or electronic display that includes the student complaint process and rights.

Section 32 (136A.822, subd. 12) clarifies that private career schools shall maintain a permanent “student” record for each student.

Section 33 (136A.8225) amends career school provisions by modifying the school closure procedures in order to improve student protections when institutions close.

Section 34 (136A.8295, subd. 6)  amends the student complaint process section of law to require career schools to disclose on the school’s website and in the school’s handbook and student catalog the student complaint process under this section.

Section 35 (136A.8295, subd. 7) classifies student complaint data as private data under chapter 13 for career schools.

Section 36 (136A.87) requires OHE to provide planning information for postsecondary education beginning in 7th grade to students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Section 37 (136F.20, subd. 3) requires the Board of Trustees to contract with mental health providers to provide mental health care, including by use of telemedicine, at up to five state colleges.  These grants must be used to build on current support, and the services must be provided without charge to students who are uninsured, have high copays, or whose insurance does not cover the service.

Section 38 (136F.245) establishes hunger-free campus designation for MinnState technical and community colleges.

Section 39 establishes the Z-Degrees section of law.  Subdivision 1 defines the terms “custom textbook,” “incentive,” “open educational resources,” “open textbook,” “system office,” and “Z-Degree.”

Subdivision 2 requires three additional colleges to offer the opportunity to earn a Z-Degree by the 2020-2021 academic year.

Subdivision 3 requires MinnState to develop a program to offer a Z-Degree at three additional colleges by expanding the use of open educational resources (OER).  The system office must develop incentives to academic departments to identify and author OER.

Subdivision 4 requires a report by January 2021 and 2022.  The report must include the number of courses transitioned to using OER and the total amount of student textbook savings resulting from the transitions.

Section 40 (136F.38) expands the workforce development program established in 2017.  This section: (1) expands the program to include students returning from the workforce;  existing law limits the scholarships to new students, (2) expands the programs that train students for high-demand occupations to include early childhood and transportation, (3) allows for a third scholarship for students who transfer to a corresponding program at a Minnesota state university, (4) encourages local business partnerships by withholding ten percent of the scholarship fund to be distributed in the following year to institutions that successfully leverage private matching funds from local business, and (5) amends the annual report to include information related to the third year scholarship and also information on the institutions that receive funds due to partnering with local businesses.

Section 41 modifies the emergency assistance rider from 2017, by adding a cross-reference to eligible institutions, striking language that states that emergency assistance does not impact the amount of state financial aid, and adding that institutions shall minimize any negative impact on financial aid resulting in the receipt of emergency funds.

Section 42 exempts OHE from certain statutory requirements under Minnesota Statutes, chapter 136G, which establishes the Minnesota State College Savings Plan, in order to resolve issues related to the college savings plan matching grants.  The commissioner shall limit the authority under this section to assisting account owners or successors who were negatively impacted, and this section is effective the day following final enactment and expires on June 30, 2021.

Section 43 requires the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and requests the University of Minnesota, to provide a report by January 15, 2020, related to the tuition differential for online courses and additional online course fees.  The report must provide a plan to achieve parity related to the amount charged for online classes and comparable in-person courses. If the institution determines that parity cannot be achieved, the report must provide justification for the difference in cost.

Section 44 the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MinnState) shall provide a report by February 1, 2020, detailing how MinnState defines, categorizes, and accounts for administration costs. The report must further identify measures taken to use innovation and cost efficiencies to lower the administrative costs. The University of Minnesota is requested to provide a similar report by February 1, 2020.

Section 45 repeals obsolete and duplicative laws.

 
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