Liability plan hurts students

A prominent state Senator plans to introduce legislation that could have crippling effects on low- and middle-income students who depend on state grants to help pay for their education.

Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, intends to propose a bill that would tie state grant funding to how colleges and universities meet performance measures.

The measure is well-intentioned in that its goal is to hold schools accountable, but it seems this proposal would impact students before the effects trickle down to the universities.

State grants can only be used at Minnesota schools, and more than 40 percent of the funding goes to Minnesota’s neediest students whose family incomes are below $20,000 annually.

So if a low-income student lives in Minneapolis and hopes to attend the University of Minnesota because of its location but the school’s state grant funding is slashed, it’s the student who is hurt first.

It’s important to note that Bonoff, who chairs the Senate’s Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, is still discussing the bill’s language with the Office of Higher Education. As those talks progress, we hope that substantive changes happen.

While it’s clear that the higher education institutions across the state need more accountability measures, instead of pulling away money that should directly benefit students, lawmakers should target a different type of funding.

State grants aren’t the source of colleges’ shortfalls in the slightest, so it makes little sense to tie them so intricately with a school’s performance.