Graduates respond to respond free tuition bill

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(ABC 6 News) – People in Minnesota and with household incomes less than 80 thousand dollars could soon be able to attend public colleges for free.

The Minnesota legislature passed its higher education budget on Wednesday and it waits on Governor Tim Walz’s desk.

“I think that’s going to be good. That’s going to invite more people to want to go to college and pursue something that they’re interested in,” Damian Schroeder, Law enforcement graduate.

While 634 students at Riverland Community College celebrated their graduations crossing the stage and receiving their degrees on Friday.

Future students of RCC and other Minnesota State Colleges and Universities celebrated the opportunities they will now be able to obtain thanks to the Minnesota legislature’s program North Star Promise.

And while current graduates won’t be able to reap the benefits of the program now, they’re pleased future students of all ages will be able to.

“I do have siblings, so for them to be able to experience that would give them an opportunity to figure out what they want to do in the future and figure out like the opportunities that there are so I really appreciate that,” Mariah Ramos, Cosmetology graduate.

While there are no official numbers for what the North Star Promise program will do to enrollment across the 26 colleges and universities in the Minnesota state system, members of the board of trustees expect a great increase of enrollment to come this fall.

“One of the characteristics of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities is access. We’re not one of those institutions or groups of institutions that restricts enrollment. We are open enrollment. We invite students who may be challenged socio-economically in this case to join us, to be able to get access to get a post secondary education in some fashion. Whatever it is they’re looking for.” Jim Grabowska, Trustee of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities board explained.

Students who are currently enrolled or planning to enroll within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, and come from households that earn more than $80,000 a year, will all have a tuition freeze starting this fall and lasting until spring 2025.