MN Bills H.F. 6 and H.F. 7

August 18, 2021 · by mlivolsi · Spark Notes

July 16, 2021

To: COHEAO Members

From: Robert Moran, Jared Solomon, and Jimmy Koch

In Minnesota, Governor Tim Waltz signed both H.F. 6, a comprehensive funding measure, and H.F. 7, an omnibus higher education bill, on June 26, 2021.  These bills contain several provisions of interest to COHEAO members that went into effect on July 1, 2021.

A provision of H.F. 7 that COHEAO has reported on and informed members about no longer allows an institutions of higher education to withhold the release of a student’s transcript if that student owes a debt to the institution under certain circumstances.  Specifically, institutions must release the transcript if the debt owed is less than $250, the student is in compliance with a school-approved repayment plan, the request is being made by a prospective employer or the institution has submitted the repayment of debt to the Department of Revenue or to a collection agency.  In addition, the provision requires each institution of higher education to submit a list of data to the MN Office of Higher Education, including the institution’s current policy and the policy before the passage of the provision, the number of students who owe a debt less than $250, the number of students who owe a debt more than $250, to name a few.  These reports are due by April 15, 2022 and again on April 15, 2023.  This provision expires on June 30, 2024.

Some other items included in H.F. 7 would require schools to retain a student’s record for 50 years with criteria on how those files are held.  Another provision would require MN state colleges and universities to ensure that prior learning is better recognized for credit at institutions and may expand recognized skill sets and work-based experiences.  Finally, the legislation requires institutions to maintain a web-page that clearly identifies resources available at the institution to help students meet basic needs.

H.F. 6 contains a number of provisions relevant to COHEAO’s commercial members.  One provision requires that all collection agencies must apply for a license to operate in the state and register with the Commissioner.  This application must be submitted before January 1, 2022.  The bill also lists a number of prohibited practices that align with the Fair Debt Protection Act and other federal consumer law.  The prohibited practices go into effect on August 1, 2021.  The bill also establishes a “Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights” that outlines a number of duties and prohibited conduct for lenders and collectors that align with typical practice and required conduct under other consumer laws.  Finally, to accommodate the current situation related to the Pandemic, the measure allows employees of collection agencies to work from home until May 31, 2022.

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