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Senate Passes Bill To Help Minnesota Argosy University Students

5/16/2019


 

News Release
May 15, 2019

Contact: Sandy Connolly (651) 259-3902

Financial aid owed but not received will be disbursed

St. Paul, MN - Legislation to help some Argosy University students impacted by the college's abrupt closure received unanimous support today in the Minnesota Senate, following unanimous passage last week by the Minnesota House. It is anticipated that the legislation will move back to the House tomorrow so minor differences between the two versions can be considered, before moving to Governor Walz for his signature, possibly on Friday.

"I want to thank Higher Education Chairs Bernardy and Anderson and leadership in both bodies for moving this bill so quickly through the legislative process and for the broad bipartisan support," said Commissioner Dennis Olson, Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE). "While this bill cannot make up for time lost when the school closed, it does provide some monetary relief to students who were expecting state financial aid for living expenses such as rent and childcare."

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 federal or state grant and loan funds they were depending on to pay living and miscellaneous expenses. This legislation will 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.

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.

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. Qualifying students will be contacted once the legislation is signed into law by Governor Walz. It is expected that just over 100 students will receive grants and 35 SELF Loan recipients will have their loans reversed.

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.

Since the college closed in March, Argosy students have been scrambling to find other colleges where they can complete their education. 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, to facilitate Minnesota colleges to start offering the unique, one-of-a-kind programs, and to help other colleges secure the accreditation they need to accept new students in high-demand areas, such as dental hygiene. Olson said Century College should know in a week, or two, if they will be accredited to enroll and complete out the dental hygiene students that were supposed to graduate May 1, 2019.

For more information, contact Sandy Connolly at 651-259-3902 or by email at sandy.connolly@state.mn.us.


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