April 10, 2019
Contact: Sandy Connolly (651) 259-3902
Financial aid owed but not received will be disbursed
St. Paul, MN -Commissioner Dennis Olson, Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) and Representative Connie Bernardy are today announcing a proposal to help Argosy University Twin Cities campus students recover financially from the college's abrupt closure last month.
Close to 1,000 students were enrolled at Argosy University Twin Cities when it shut its doors on March 8, about halfway through the spring semester. In addition to their education being disrupted, students also did not receive grant and loan funds they were depending on to pay living and miscellaneous expenses. The legislation announced today would give OHE the authority to release Argosy students from liability for any Minnesota SELF student loans for the spring 2019 semester, and pay them directly for other state financial aid.
"Whether it was their first semester or last, Argosy students had their plans for the future sidetracked in a way they could never have imagined," said Governor Tim Walz. "Helping to lessen their financial burden is the right thing to do."
"Argosy students deserve the same opportunity as others who are working hard to achieve a degree," said Bernardy, Chair of the House Higher Education Finance and Policy Division. "This legislation will help impacted students partner with the Office of Higher Education so they get the financial relief they need."
Current state statute requires OHE to disburse student aid funds directly to the college, which uses the funds to pay tuition and fees before sending the remaining credit balance directly to the student. In the case of Argosy, the entire amount of student aid was kept by the college, leaving students and their families short by thousands of dollars. In the same manner, SELF Loan funding was not disbursed to students, and without this legislation, students are still required to pay those loans back.
"Not only were Argosy students locked out of their college, they also lost the financial aid they were depending on to pay for things such as rent, transportation or childcare," said Commissioner Dennis Olson, OHE. "The proposal we're announcing today will help them get back on their feet so they can continue their education."
Programs impacted by this legislation include the MN SELF Loan, the MN State Grant, Postsecondary Childcare Grants, MN Indian Scholarships and the MN GI Bill. OHE is in the process of determining the number of students who will benefit and the total dollar amount. Students will be contacted once the legislation is signed into law by Governor Walz.
Funding will come from existing appropriations for FY 2019 and from the reserves in the SELF Loan fund. OHE plans to seek recovery of the funds distributed to students and the SELF loan amounts.
An informational hearing on the closing of Argosy University will be held today at 2:30 in the House Higher Education Committee.
In addition to financial difficulties, Argosy students are also working to complete their education at other colleges. For the majority of students, several Minnesota colleges with similar programs have stepped up to create transfer pathways for an easy transition. Other students enrolled in unique, one-of-a-kind programs, or similar programs that are at capacity, are still waiting. The Office of Higher Education has been working with Argosy students and Minnesota colleges to facilitate their transfer options, and to help other colleges secure the accreditation they need to accept new students in high-demand areas, such as dental hygiene.
"Students are understandably discouraged and anxious," said Olson. "While today's proposal is a one-time fix, we plan to consider additional legislation next year to help prevent a situation like this from happening again."
For more information, contact Sandy Connolly at 651-259-3902 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.