Reimagine Remedial

Our members are leading reform efforts on this issue in Minnesota, raising awareness of how broken and inequitable our remedial education system is and getting wins at the legislature to provide better alternatives. 

The Issue

1 in 4 Minnesota high school graduates have to take remedial courses in college, paying tuition for courses they passed or weren't offered in K-12 - and earning no college credits for their hard work.

Remedial courses deter students from completing their degrees while saddling them with additional debt - at a time when Minnesota needs more college graduates. Students across the state are impacted - but students of color and low-income students disproportionately pay the price. 

This urgent issue is a top concern for SFER members, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college and struggle to cover the extra costs. In addition, after working hard to earn their diplomas and enroll in college, they're discouraged by a message that says they aren't college material after all.

Our Solution

SFER students researched alternatives to remediation that are more affordable and effective in terms of students gaining critical skills and obtaining their degrees.

SFER students have focused on requiring the Minnesota State College and University System (MnSCU), where more than 80% of students in remedial courses are enrolled, to redesign its remedial system using these proven alternatives.

Our members have marched, introduced legislation, testified at the capitol, told their stories through the media, and more. 

Our Impact

1. New legislation. A bill requiring that MnSCU plan to offer alternatives passed with bipartisan support and became law. It requires MnSCU to consider alternatives to remedial courses and requires MnSCU to report publicly and annually on remediation.

2. Awareness of remedial issue. SFERMinn brought widespread attention to this previously under-the-radar crisis, leading to attention and action by legislators and the higher education community. The crisis in remediation has since received local, statewide, and even national media attention.

3. Increased lobbying and advocacy skills among students.  SFER members have gained extensive experience in the legislative process. Their voices - primarily students of color from families with few financial means - used their firsthand experience and their organizing power to achieve more educational justice throughout the state and in their communities.

MN High School Grads Required to Take Remedial Courses in College

2012 high school graduates. MN Office of Higher Education

MN HS Graduates Required to Enroll in Remedial Courses: % by Race/Ethnicity

It was wonderful to see so many students at the Capitol - testifying, meeting with legislators, and bringing forward solid research and proposals. It was a privilege to work with them to make a college education in Minnesota fairer and more affordable.
— MN State Representative Joe McDonald, R-Delano
This was a great example of democracy in action, with students having a voice on education policy. The resulting legislation on remedial education is a huge step forward to making college possible for more Minnesota students.
— MN State Senator Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley