The report on the health of the Minnesota State Grant


Beginning in July, Minnesota students should receive full Minnesota State Grant awards — the first time in two years, according to a report announced today by the state Office of Higher Education.

The state’s scholarship program is projected to be $6.6 million in the black over the next biennium, the office reports. But that could change if the economy or federal Pell Grant program takes a big hit. (Generally speaking, if Pell Grant awards decrease, the State Grant award usually makes up the difference. That could stretch state resources.)

Here’s the full announcement:

OHE RELEASES STATE GRANT PROJECTIONS

St. Paul, MN – As directed by state statute, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) is today releasing its latest projections report for the Minnesota State Grant program. The Minnesota State Grant Program is the largest financial aid program administered by OHE, awarding up to $155 million in need-based grants to Minnesota residents attending eligible colleges, universities and career schools in Minnesota.

According to today’s report, the current State Grant spending projection is $148 million for fiscal year 2012, a difference of $6.62 million under the $154.625 appropriated for FY2012. The projections are based on assumptions for enrollment, cost of tuition and fees, changes in wages, and federal changes in financial aid policy, including Pell Grants.

Meredith Fergus, OHE Policy Analyst, said spending projections for the next biennium are stable and appropriations are adequate to meet the demand.

“Based on current information, no changes are recommended to the state grant parameters,” said Fergus. “The office is pleased to be able to make full awards to students beginning in July 2012 for the first time in two years.”

Fergus said that in addition to the data used to determine the projections, several other factors not yet known could impact State Grant spending.

For example, while enrollment projections are down across the board, which by itself would likely decrease demand for State Grant spending, continued downward pressure on family and student incomes would counter that decrease.

In addition, because of the dollar for dollar award formula between the federal Pell grants and the State Grant program, any future reductions in Pell Grant amounts would result in increased spending in the Minnesota State Grant program.