Undergraduate tuition would be frozen at Minnesota's public colleges and universities under an agreement made at the Capitol on Wednesday evening.

The higher education conference committee agreed to $250 million in new spending — including money that would cover tuition freezes for in-state students in both the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities systems.

That total, which will be spread over the next two years, comes close to the Senate's proposed increase of $263 million. The House had been working with a $150 million target.

Both bodies passed higher education budgets that funded a freeze at the University of Minnesota, as suggested by the U's budget request. But while the House barred MnSCU from raising undergraduate tuition, the Senate funded a range of new proposals and capped tuition increases at 3 percent.

The conference committee's agreement freezes tuition for MnSCU undergrads while also putting millions toward retaining faculty and buying new equipment.

Language that would allow undocumented students to become eligible for state financial aid, in-state tuition and private scholarships also was tacked onto the bill. The Senate approved that so-called Path to Prosperity Act, but it never got a full hearing in the House.

Jenna Ross