Grinding for the MN state grant

Hamline students attended a Day at the Capitol event to call for the continuation and increase of funds toward the Minnesota State Grant.


Tim Schnell

Senator Carla Nelson with one of her constituents, Theresa Kallmes, and Hamline’s Director of Communications, Jeff Papas.

Kelly Holm, Senior Reporter

College can come with a steep price tag, and for nearly half of the Hamline community, the Minnesota State Grant program serves as a coupon. Just under a thousand undergraduate Pipers receive money for their post-secondary education through the State Grant, each receiving an average award of $5,100 per year.

In order to be eligible for State Grant funding, one must be a Minnesota resident attending college at any Minnesota institution, whether it be public or private, two-year or four-year. The average household income for recipients typically ranges between approximately $20,000 and $70,000 per year. For more information on State Grant eligibility and the process of applying for funding, one can consult the State Grant page on the Minnesota Office of Higher Education website.

Now, the Minnesota Private Colleges Council (MPCC) urges state lawmakers to continue and expand the State Grant program at the beginning of a new legislative session with a budget surplus. According to MPCC Consultant and Day at the Capitol Coordinator Dennis Egan, an addition $92 million in state grant funding would enable the program, which currently serves 80,000 Minnesota families, to serve 9,900 more, as well as add an extra $500 to the awards of current recipients. State Grant funds were last increased two years ago, and have been increased several times within the past decade. The program enjoys strong bipartisan support.

One method the Council has been using to mobilize support for a funding hike is through Days at the Capitol, when college students can register for one-on-one meetings with their state senators and representatives to thank them for past support and urge them to continue to sustain the program. Hamline’s designated day, shared with three other colleges, was Feb. 13.

Prior to the students’ meetings with their legislators, Egan briefed them on what information to share in the conversation, such as how the State Grant has personally impacted them, and what career paths the funds have enabled them to pursue.

“I’ve been considering for a while either being a high school teacher, probably math, or an elementary teacher,” first-year Theresa Kallmes said in her meeting with State Senator Carla Nelson (R-Olmsted County).

Nelson is a former teacher herself and has previously served on the Higher Education Committee. She voiced strong praise for the State Grant program.

“The wonderful thing about the State Grant is it is really great for the institutions,” Nelson said. “You need to fulfill what the consumers want… or they’re going to walk out the door, and they’re going to take their State Grant, and they’re going to use it at an institution that does meet their needs.”

Nelson also appreciated that the State Grant kept students in Minnesota.

“You are our sweet corn. It’s our students that we plant, become the workers and leaders that drive our economies and our communities in the future,” Nelson said. “We’ve invested a lot in you, and we want to keep you here.”

Jeff Papas, Hamline’s Director of Communications, acknowledged the role Days at the Capitol could play in contrasting an often tense public arena.

“In today’s political climate, a thank you can go an awful long way,” Papas said.