Considering the state is currently sitting on a $2 billion surplus, it seems now would be a good time for legislators to support middle-class families–especially since that includes college students, who are likely already thousands of dollars in debt.
However, given the recent rejection of the University of Minnesota’s request to extend another two-year tuition freeze by the Republican-led Minnesota House, it appears that may not be the case.
Only one-third of the U’s needed amount was allocated by the Legislature, which President Erik Kaler said will make it impossible to freeze tuition. Part of the reason the U didn’t receive all that it requested, according to President Kaler, is because of House Republican politics. Kaler believes the House is more sensitive to issues in Greater Minnesota, but also stresses that the work the U does is critical to the success of Greater Minnesota, including injecting agricultural and infrastructural resources into those areas.
President Kaler referred to the allocated sum as a “massive disinvestment by the state in public higher education.”
The initial requested amount would have prevented tuition hikes of 3 percent for undergraduates, and 3.5 percent for graduate students.
Making matters even more financially squeezed: Minnesota’s main source of public financial aid, the State Grant, received an increase that was below what both Governor Mark Dayton and the DFL Senate requested. The amount allocated for the State Grant, though beneath DFL requests, was still far above what the House proposed, which would have led to a cut of $93 per year for the average grant recipient.
At a time when the state has a surplus at its disposal, it’s unacceptable for members of the GOP to force college students in Minnesota to take out even more money in student loans. The amount of student loan debt in the country has skyrocketed to the trillions, and students in Minnesota already have the third-highest average student debt burden in the country.
It’s unnecessary to raise tuition, which will leave even more students indebted and thus less likely to be able to get married, start families, and contribute to the economy in a productive way, especially when Minnesota has a surplus.
House Republicans’ decision to play politics with students’ tuition will impact thousands of students, and our future workforce.