Photo Content: Flickr User Pete Sieger; Normandale Community College
We all know that education is critical to a bright future. In fact, by 2018 an estimated 70 percent of Minnesota jobs will require some education beyond high school. And right now, only 40 percent of Minnesotans hold postsecondary degrees. Closing this higher education gap is critical to helping all Minnesotans get great jobs in the future and growing our economy.
However, the rising cost of higher education is putting college out of reach for many. Right now, Minnesota had the third highest student debt rate in the United States with the average graduate leaving school with $29,800 in debt. This year, Governor Mark Dayton and the DFL legislature improved Minnesota’s State Grant Program to help all of our students get an affordable education.
Previously, part-time college student who also worked received a smaller grant than they would have otherwise. Under the new requirements, part-time students taking three or more credits will be eligible for the State Grant Program. This improvement is particularly beneficial for non-traditional college students who are more likely to be older, have a family, or other responsibilities that keep them from attending school full-time.
In addition to reforming the State Grant Program, the Governor and the legislature invested $46 million more into direct financial aid. This will significantly increase support for all college students during the next two years. In all, these new investments and reforms should Minnesota students get a more affordable education as they return to campus.
Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon talks with kids at Pillsbury Elementary School in Minneapolis
Today, Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon served breakfast at Pillsbury Elementary in Minneapolis to raise awareness of child hunger and its impact on education. She explained that more than 200,000 Minnesota children experience hunger every year. And research shows, that poor nutrition among school age children directly relates to poorer class performance, more days of missed school, and declining academic achievement.
To increase access to free and reduced price breakfast, the State of Minnesota is partnering with Hunger Free Minnesota, the Midwest Dairy Council, and the Children’s Defense Fund of Minnesota to create the first-ever Minnesota School Breakfast Challenge. The challenge will reward the top 30 Minnesota schools with $0.10 for every new breakfast served beyond what was served last year.
Governor Dayton talks to MCTC students abour their new state-of-the-art training facility.
Yesterday, Governor Mark Dayton visited Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s (MCTC) brand new nursing and allied health care facilities. The Governor’s 2012 bonding bill provided $13.4 million for the renovation efforts – allowing the school to consolidate and modernize lab space for its nursing, phlebotomy and electroneurodiagnostic technology programs. The new space also emulates a hospital setting to better prepare students for future employment.
When Minnesota invests in infrastructure projects like this one, we also are making critical investments in people. These newly upgraded facilities will provide future nurses and other health care professionals access to state-of-the-art training that will prepare them for success in their careers.
Students who sign up to be part of the Summer Nudging initiative get text messages reminders for college application deadlines
Incoming college students not only face academic challenges, but also often struggle simply to navigate the required paperwork. New students must fill out forms for financial aid, registration, housing, courses, and meal plans. For first-generation college students without a parent or guardian already familiar with the system – the mounting paperwork can present a major barrier to higher education.
To help our incoming college students, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education started its “Summer Nudging” initiative to help guide students through the process. Students who sign up for the program get regular text message reminders with dates and deadlines for critical registration paperwork.