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Report finds MN school districts could have saved students millions in tuition

Photo credit: Courtesy of People for PSEO

A report conducted by the student-led nonprofit People for PSEO (Post-Secondary Enrollment Options) found widespread non-compliance by Minnesota school districts and charter schools who are required by law to share post-secondary enrollment options with their students. The organization says, as a result, students across Minnesota were left unaware of opportunities that could have saved them millions of dollars.

Minnesota district and charter schools are required by law to provide up-to-date information about the PSEO program on their school websites. But the People for PSEO report found a legal compliance rate of 70% among Minnesota public charter schools, and just 37% within traditional Minnesota school districts. In some cases the information did not appear on the website; in other instances it was misleading or severely outdated.

“There had been these three or four [partial] reports since the early 2000s that were measuring this,” said college student and Executive Director of People for PSEO, Zeke Jackson. “We wanted to take that and expand on it to include all 390 school districts and charter schools that are required to comply with the law.”

The report comes on the heels of the Minnesota Department of Education’s own study on dual enrollment, which found that the current funding structure for PSEO disincentivizes high schools from recruiting students for the program.

“Given the loss in K–12 funding when students elect to participate in PSEO, there is an incentive for high schools to try and limit the number of students choosing to take PSEO,” the MDE report states. “That can manifest itself in high schools not making information freely available to students about PSEO (as required by statute), and erecting other artificial barriers to disincentivize participation by high school students and subsequent loss of funding to the high school.”

A new proposal by Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan (part of the “One Minnesota Budget”) seeks to remove enrollment barriers by allowing school districts and charter schools to receive full funding for students taking PSEO classes.

Post-Secondary Enrollment Options were created by the state legislature in 1985 “to promote rigorous course taking and improve student transitions to postsecondary education.” PSEO allows high school students to enroll in college courses without having to pay for tuition, books or fees. According to the State of Minnesota, more than 45,000 high school students earned college credits in 2020, at a savings of approximately $60 million.

People for PSEO is demanding that the Minnesota Department of Education establish mandatory reporting requirements and apply appropriate enforcement mechanisms to district and charter public schools that do not satisfy their statutory obligations. It also wants the Minnesota Department of Education to fund a series of public service announcements regarding the PSEO program, focusing on media that serve areas where school districts are not sharing up to date information.

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