Wednesday, January 21, 2009

House learns about financial aid

Financial aid discussed in the House
The House Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division learned more about how financial aid works yesterday. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education explained the different financial aid sources and how much aid was awarded for each source. In fiscal year 2007, $864 million was awarded to students attending Minnesota institutions. Of this amount, $205 million was awarded in federal need-based Pell grants and other federal grants, and $158 million was awarded in Minnesota state grants. The largest amount awarded to students, $416 million, was institution grants and scholarships.

In fiscal year 2008, 83,000 undergraduates received some type of financial aid. The Office of Higher Education said members could learn more about the Minnesota state grant program by visiting the Web site at There are reports available that provide more information; Minnesota State Grant Review 2008, Enrollment Patterns of Low-Income Students 2008 and State Grant Year-End Statistics for FY2008.

Lending expertise to the discussion were financial aid experts from each higher education system; Peter Zetterburg with the University of Minnesota, Kathy Ruby with St. Olaf College and Mike Lopez with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Each member of the panel was asked to discuss the role and importance of the state grant program at their institution or system. All three panelists agreed that without the state grant program, students would be borrowing even more. Lopez told committee members that student debt has increased dramatically over the years.

The committee will form a smaller break-out committee to look at the issue of financial aid in more depth.

At the Capitol:
Legislative schedules are available for the House and Senate.

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