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Walz signs measures to deliver financial relief to Argosy students, support families with rare diseases

June 18, 2019 06:56 PM

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz held a series of ceremonial signings Tuesday for ten bills passed during the recent legislative session, which included a measure to deliver financial relief to Argosy students and another to create the Chloe Barnes Rare Disease Advisory Council. 

The Argosy University law gives the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) the authority to release Argosy students from liability for any state self-student loans for the spring 2019 semester, and pays them directly for other state financial aid.

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Argosy abruptly closed in March after its parent company went into receivership - a form of bankruptcy.

Current state statute requires OHE to disburse student aid directly to the college, which uses the funds to pay tuition and fees before sending the remaining credit balance directly to the student. In Argosy's case, 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, but until this bill was signed into law, students were still required to pay those loans back.

Gov. Walz also signed bipartisan legislation creating the Chloe Barnes Rare Disease Advisory Council at the University of Minnesota.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 50,000 Minnesotans are affected by a rare disease. The council will be named after Chloe Barnes. The little girl died of a rare disease called MLD.

"For me, it means that families won't feel alone," said Chloe's mother Erica Barnes. "They won't feel like they have to be their own advocate, navigator or fundraiser. It gives them a place to come, to work with other families and solve problems together; instead of all alone and in isolation."

The Advisory Council on Rare Diseases will provide advice on research, diagnosis and treatment related to rare diseases.

Republican Senator Jeremy Miller of Winona was a sponsor of the bill. "This was a grass roots effort led by everyday Minnesotans, everyday families who either know someone who has a rare disease or maybe has a family member with a rare disease," Miller said.

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