Driving Change in Higher Education.

MSCSA’s 2014 state legislative agenda

By Matt Rubel

MSCSA Treasurer

Greetings fellow student leaders and welcome to the spring edition of the MSCSA Students’ View. As many of you are already aware, our Platform Committee passed this year’s policy agenda on January 11, 2014, at our January Leadership Conference hosted by Inver Hills Community College. The motion to approve this year’s policy agenda passed unanimously.

The policy agenda contained our federal legislative agenda, state legislative agenda, and MnSCU system-wide agenda. For the purposes of this article, I will be focusing on our state legislative agenda, which encompasses four major topics: credit transfer, the creation of a workgroup to discuss access and affordability at our community and technical colleges, widening advertisement of the states Postsecondary Enrollment Option (PSEO), and the MnSCU System’s bonding request.

Our first priority concerns creating more seamless pathways for credit transfer and the creation of a data gathering system that would house information around the numbers of students transferring, why they are transferring, and where they are transferring. This data would be used to improve transfer experiences for our many transferring students. The data gathering system would inevitably lead to better strategies and communication for students who are attempting to navigate the dense world of articulation agreements. It would also improve students experience transferring into our community and technical colleges, as well as out of our colleges to universities and other institutions.

Our second stance is in regards to the creation of a workgroup that would focus on the access and affordability of our institutions. The MnSCU system is comprised of 31 colleges and universities that serve 47 communities across Minnesota. Currently, the state is facing a shortage of well-trained workers in many sectors and industries. In order to bridge the gap it is imperative that the MnSCU system stay focused on its mission of providing the highest quality and most affordable education in the state. This workgroup would be the first step of a long-term approach that would improve the outlook for Minnesota’s higher education system and the job training forecast.

Additionally our third stance, which relates to repealing the advertising restriction around PSEO, would also help to curb the access and affordability dilemma. Presently, our institutions are prohibited from communicating the cost savings involved with PSEO to prospective students and their families. Not only are students involved in PSEO programs more likely to finish their degree in a timely manner but also they are more likely to possess less student debt upon completion. The repeal of this advertising restriction would benefit a large number of students and their families. It would also help businesses and industry obtain the well-trained workforce they ultimately require.

Finally, our last priority involves the support for the MnSCU System’s bonding request. This includes a request of $110 million for Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR). The appropriation of these funds would have an impact on every two-year college campus in Minnesota. This funding from the state would enable institutions to use these funds instead of their campus reserves to complete these projects. These funds also help to maintain tuition rates as the cost of these projects are not passed along to our students. Beyond the HEAPR funding, there are numerous building projects contained in the bonding request. For more information on these projects, please contact the MSCSA office.

With session already started up, it is important that we have your support during our advocacy efforts. If you wish to contact your respective lawmakers in an attempt to persuade them to support our cause, please do so via telephone, e-mail, or by scheduling a meeting. For more information on our state legislative agenda please do not hesitate to contact our Vice President, Kayley Schoonmaker, via her e-mail address: vice@mscsa.org.

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