Both houses of the Minnesota Legislature passed bills that would allow Native American students who live in the state or are enrolled in a tribe there to attend a public college or university for free, The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.
The legislation would allocate $8.5 million toward covering Native American students’ fees and tuition.
But the bills differ in how they seek to spend the remainder of a $650 million funding increase to the state’s two public university systems. The House of Representatives is prioritizing system-level funding, the Press reported, while the Senate wants to provide more grants to underrepresented students, including providing free tuition for low-income students.
Senator Omar Fateh, a Democrat who chairs the higher education committee, said that such grants “[make] an important promise that any Minnesotan who wants to earn a degree, enter the workforce and support their family has the ability to do so.”
But Republicans noted that the University of Minnesota system has stated it could do more for college affordability if it were simply allocated the unrestricted funds.