For the first time in memory, students at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges will see tuition go down as a result of the higher education budget bill signed by the governor. The bill provides 100 million in funding to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system to freeze tuition in the first year of the biennium while providing a one percent reduction for college students in the second year, all the while maintaining the quality services and programs that are currently being offered. The higher education budget bill is a huge step toward making college affordable in Minnesota.
“Students at Minnesota’s public community and technical colleges will see much needed relief from increasing tuition costs thanks to the leadership of state legislators and Governor Mark Dayton,” said Kayley Schoonmaker, President of the MSCSA. “These leaders, along with many other legislators, have done a great thing for students by providing lower tuition for all students and targeted aid to make college free for some.”
The Minnesota State College Student Association worked closely with two-year community and technical college students from all corners of the state to advocate for the tuition freeze and was thrilled when it was announced that the outcome was even more than students could have hoped for. MSCSA will continue to work to ensure accessible, quality, and affordable public higher education for all Minnesota students.
MSCSA sent a letter today thanking Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka), Rep. Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls), and Governor Mark Dayton for prioritizing college affordability while maintaining quality at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges. Below is the content of the letter.
Dear Governor Dayton, Senator Bonoff, and Representative Nornes,
On behalf of the nearly 200,000 community and technical college students across the state, I want to share my sincerest gratitude to each of you for the commitment you showed this session to the issues facing our students.
We’re grateful that each of you recognized the unique challenges our students and campuses face and addressed these head-on in the budget. Our students currently pay the third highest tuition and fees in the nation. By providing significant new funding to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system and directing those dollars toward controlling tuition, you have set us on a path out of the top 5 nationally in tuition and protected the quality programs offered that are key to meeting our state’s workforce needs.
As a result of the higher education bill this session, students at our campuses will, for the first time in memory, see a reduction in tuition costs. In fact, building off the work of the previous legislature’s tuition freeze, our students will see three straight years of flat tuition and a one percent reduction in FY17. Due to the leadership of elected officials like you, many of our students will graduate paying the same or less than they did when they started their higher education journey.
We’re also grateful that the bill included funding and language aimed at implementing new transfer pathways for students in the MnSCU system. We have seen other states undertake similar reform and students there have benefited greatly from the transparency and certainty these new pathways bring. We’re excited to be a part of this crucial reform that will allow students to graduate faster, with less debt, and will allow them to enter the workforce quicker. This is something that will be of great benefit to our local, regional, and statewide economy.
We’re also excited about the pilot program to provide tuition assistance to students entering certain technical programs. We have long believed that our technical programs offer great benefits to students and our state’s economy and believe this program is a great step in recognizing their value.
Once again, thank you for your commitment to students and higher education in Minnesota. The efforts you put in this session are invaluable and appreciated by students on our campuses.
The regular state legislative session concluded last week with a flurry of action around the state budget and other important issues. As the legislature and governor negotiated an agreement around state spending, one budget bill that was wrapped up and signed into law was around higher education appropriations.
Minnesota's community and technical college students had a truly remarkable session. This is thanks to the work of the many students who came to the MSCSA's advocacy day, testified at hearings, met with legislators throughout the session, or participated in other events.
The final higher education budget bill included many provisions that directly and postively impact students on our campuses. Some of the highlights include:
Once again, we'd like to thank students across Minnesota who contributed to the success of this legislative session. If you have questions around the bill or the session in general, please contact the MSCSA office at 651-297-5877.
Dear MSCSA Students, Alumni, and Friends,
I am pleased to announce the new executive director of the Minnesota State College Student Association, Mike Dean.
The MSCSA staff, cabinet, and governing council are very excited about Mike's experience as a nonprofit leader and a higher education advocate. He comes to MSCSA with experience in management, fundraising, and public relations.
Mike is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in political science and international relations. Prior to joining the MSCSA, Mike rebuilt the Minnesota chapter of Common Cause as a leading advocate for open and accountable government. During his tenure, Mike played a huge role in limiting the influence of political spending after the US Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
Mike also brings years of experience working with higher education institutions in advocating for state support of higher education. While working for the University of Minnesota, Mike helped craft the grassroots strategy that resulted in the passing of the University of Minnesota stadium bill.
I am excited about the passion and vision that Mike will bring to the MSCSA as we develop the next generation of leaders in Minnesota and advocate for all Minnesotan's right to accessible, quality, and affordable public higher education. Please join me in welcoming Mike Dean to our organization at The Great MSCSA Get-Together on Saturday, June 13. You can read more about Mike and his background below.
Tell us about your work experience and educational background.
My career has been at the intersection of the non-profit and higher education sectors, as I have helped both build grassroots movements that bring about transformational change. I have years of experience working in higher education by helping institutions like MnSCU, the State University System of New York, and University of Minnesota build effective advocacy programs to garner adequate state support. While working for the University of Minnesota, I managed a grassroots advocacy strategy which sent over 15,000 letters to legislators in support of the UM Gopher Football Stadium. This advocacy was pivotal in convincing elected officials to support public funding for the stadium.
More recently, I was the executive director of Common Cause Minnesota, a citizens advocacy organization that empowers citizens to take a more active role in the democratic process. During my tenure, I helped rebuild the state organization into a powerful advocate for good government in Minnesota by bringing greater disclosure to political spending in Minnesota, ensuring oversight to the recount and redistricting process, and urging the governor to reopen the capitol when it was closed during the government shutdown.
What interested you in working for MSCSA?
Over 15 years ago, I was a student leader at the University of Wisconsin-Madison working to keep tuition affordable and empower students to have their voice heard. The life lessons and friendships that I made as a student leader had a huge impact on my life. I was able to gain so much from that experience as a result of the amazing staff that I worked with as a student leader. It was their mentorship and passion for helping others that helped shape who I am today.
I am excited about working for MSCSA because I want mentor the next generation of civic and business leaders in Minnesota. It is my way to give back to all those that have mentored me over the years.
What are some of the things that you have been working on and are excited to work on in the future?
I am excited about ensuring that every Minnesotan has a fundamental right a quality education that extends from preschool to community college. For Minnesota to compete in the global economy, we need to make sure that Community Colleges are free to all those that choose to attend. This will be critical in creating opportunities for every Minnesotan.
I want to help the MSCSA build a movement that guarantees every Minnesotan's right to attend a high quality community college for free.
What interests do you have outside of work?
I am an avid marathon runner that is always looking for a good place to run. This spring I completed my first Boston Marathon.
What is your favorite quote?
"If we don't fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don't really stand for them." - Sen. Paul Wellstone
How can people contact you?
You can email me at email@example.com or call me anytime at 651-203-9454. You can also follow me on Twitter @MDean_MSCSA. I look forward to connecting with you all. If you are free on Saturday, June 13, come say hello and introduce yourself at The Great MSCSA Get-Together!
Over the past several weeks, the budget process has really ramped up and the 2015 Minnesota legislative session continues to move ahead. In the past week, higher education committees in both the house and senate have moved budget bills forward.
The senate budge omnibus bill, SF 5 (Bonoff) passed through the full senate last week. That bill contains a variety of fiscal and policy provisions. Highlights of the bill include:
Later today, the house omnibus bill will be heard on the floor. That bill, HF845 will includes new funding for the MnSCU system as well as tuition directives to the Board of Trustees. Some specifics of that bill include:
Upon final passage of HF845, a conference committee will be chosen to work through the differences in the two bills and eventually send an agreement to the governor. As has been reported before, Governor Mark Dayton recommends $142 million in new base funding for MnSCU as well as a two year tuition freeze for all campuses.