Increasing the State Grant Will Help Students at Private Schools

Leniya Morrow, features editor

Students, faculty and community members are asking state legislatures to increase the budget for the Minnesota State Grant program. The Minnesota Private College Council sent a legislative request on Jan. 15 petitioning for Governor Walz and other legislators to increase the Minnesota State Grant funding. The council requested a $67.5 million dollar increase in order to expand  access to education by “reducing the student share” as per the legislative request for funding from the MN Private College Council. 

In 2019, Minnesota State Grants helped over 75,000 students around the state pay for education. Without these grants, many students may not be able to receive post-secondary education. These grants exist to minimize barriers to education as well as grant access to underprivileged groups. Easing the stress of paying for college helps students avoid taking out big loans and gives them a smoother college experience. 

At Augsburg, we have many students that come from low-income families. It is a common misconception that students that go to private schools always come from high-income backgrounds. In fact, According to the Minnesota Private College Council, 48% of Augsburg students received a Minnesota State Grant for the 2019-2020 school year. The average award for Augsburg students was $5,590. 

Activists, students and council members are pushing for more funding to ensure that all students have the opportunity to go to the school that best fits their needs. According to the Minnesota Private College Council, “68% of students come from a family that makes less than $50,000 a year.” This means that, for many students, schools like Augsburg would be inaccessible without federal funding. Augsburg’s website states that base tuition for 2020-2021 is $39,295, not including room and board. Without other scholarships or loans, these expenses could tank lower-income families. The legislative request states that “college students need these grants to be aligned with the reality of what they and their families can afford to pay.”

Even with grants, students at private colleges still have to pay higher fees for education. Some may argue that private schools have more money to give in scholarships. Although that may be true to a certain extent, prices for tuition are significantly higher at private colleges. The legislative request by the Council of Private Colleges states that state grants only cover about 19% of the cost for private schools whereas it covers on average 104% for Minnesota State University and 85% for the University of Minnesota.  

Increasing funding for the Minnesota State Grant could drastically better the lives of Augsburg students. It would be especially helpful to our BIPOC and low-income students. Making school more affordable will encourage our students to graduate and finish their degrees on time. It will also reduce the amount that our students have to borrow. More time can be spent having a college experience, rather than figuring out how to pay for it.