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May 1 Scholarship Deadline, MnSCU BOT Endorsements, and Much More!

Association Update 03-28-16


Upcoming Events:

Spring General Assembly

Date: April 15-17, 2016
Location: Breezy Point Resort - Breezy Point, MN
Register by March 30, 2016.

MSCSA Endorses 3 Students for the MnSCU Board of Trustees

The MSCSA Governing Council, acting on the advice of the Ad Hoc Committee on Board of Trustees Endorsements, has recommended three students to fill positions at the MnSCU Board of Trustees. By statute, MSCSA is allowed to submit recommendations for the Governor to consider when making appointments to the Board. We are thankful to all the students that applied for the endorsement and are confident that any of the three students would make fantastic additions to the Board of Trustees. The MSCSA has chosen to endorse the following people:
Basil Ajuo
Senate Vice President at North Hennepin Community College
Amanda Gomes Torres
Governing Council Member and Senate President at Normandale Community College
Austin Ruport
MSCSA Public Relations Coordinator and student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Student Voices Heard in St. Paul and Washington D.C.

MSCSA has been busy in March advocating for the interests of community & technical colleges across the state of Minnesota. On March 14-15, MSCSA leaders met with elected officials in Washington D.C. to lobby on federal issues affecting students in Minnesota. In addition, students met with several non-profit groups to learn more about higher education policy and how MSCSA can advance higher education for community and technical college students.
On March 23rd, MSCSA had its annual Advocacy Day at the Minnesota State Capitol. Despite the ongoing capitol construction, students met with legislators from across the state to deliver a unified message about affordability, open educational resources, and equity in higher education. The following outlines MSCSA’s state legislative agenda for 2016 aimed at benefitting students state-wide.
MnSCU Bonding Proposal
MSCSA supports the MnSCU bonding proposal, which requests $254.5 million in projects. $110 million of this proposal is for HEAPR projects. HEAPR – Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement – projects help keep our students warm, safe, and dry. Investing in existing infrastructure is a cost effective way to ensure that students have adequate resources to succeed in MnSCU institutions. Repair work to infrastructure may not be the most exciting issue, but functional facilities are key to student success. It’s true what they say: HEAPR is cheaper!
MnSCU Supplemental Request 
MSCSA is grateful to the legislature for funding a tuition freeze and decrease for community and technical college students. To build on this good work and to ensure quality across the MnSCU system, MSCSA is advocating for MnSCU’s supplemental budget request. The $21 million requested by MnSCU will help protect the investment that the legislature made last year.
Open Educational Resources
MSCSA is sponsoring legislation that will build on MnSCU’s investment into open educational resources. Open educational resources (OERs) are electronic textbooks that can be fully customizable by faculty and are often free to use. MSCSA believes that OERs are key to reducing textbook costs for students. Because more than 20% of a community or technical college student’s costs come from textbooks, movement towards OERs would translate to huge savings for students. MSCSA’s bill will continue to fund OER pilot programs on campuses across the state and supplement the Open Education Resource Learning Network. Learn more about MSCSA’s work on textbook affordability,

Scholarship Application
Deadline is May 1, 2016

If you are a current student attending a college or university within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and will be at that institution next fall 2016 or are transferring from a college to a four-year MnSCU university, then this message is for you!
Applications are being accepted until May 1, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. for three MSCSA scholarships. The scholarships range from $500 to $1,250.

  • MSCSA Leadership Scholarship: A scholarship that rewards emerging student leaders for their community services for both two-year college and four-year university students. Applicants must demonstrate strong leadership skills and a commitment to serving others. Graduate and PSEO students are not eligible.
  • Dr. Steve and Darla Frantz Leadership Endowed Scholarship: This scholarship program is intended to provide financial assistance to Minnesota State College and Universities (MnSCU) undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate leadership in academics, extracurricular activities and community or national service with a priority given to those who are serving or have served in good standing in any branch of the United States Military or other U.S. national service and have exhausted federal and state service related education benefits excluding the Minnesota GI Bill. PSEO students are not eligible.

  • John Kenneth Niemi Memorial Tool Fund Scholarship: This endowed fund will provide funds for tool purchases required for completing a technical course of study for students attending one of the technical colleges or technical programs within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Preference will be given to a student enrolled in the area of Technical/Management/Trades.

For additional details on how to apply for a MSCSA scholarship, please visit www.mscsa.org/aboutmscsa/scholarship
Scholarship applications are due by Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 11:59 p.m.

MSCSA and Partners Make Compelling Case for Diversity Agenda at Hungry for Equity

On Saturday March 5, MSCSA proudly co-hosted the Hungry for Equity Forum at St. Paul College. Following a moving introduction from St. Paul College President Rassoul Dastmozd, students and community members gathered in breakout sessions to discuss issues that affect students on all campuses – racism, the high costs of higher education, and the need for supportive educational environments. During the lunch hour, Hungry for Equity attendees heard from four MSCSA student leaders. Robert Ellis (MCTC), Oscar Corral (Inver Hills Community College), LyLy Vang-Yang, and Ariel Mendoza (Inver Hills Community College) shared their experiences as students of color within the MnSCU system.
Following the breakout sessions, attendees voted on the issues that they felt would make the biggest impact on improving equity in Minnesota. Some of the most popular ideas for people in attendance were debt-free community college, culturally sensitive advising, and increasing the number of faculty of color in our institutions. MSCSA is enthusiastic about moving forward with this coalition to help move Minnesota in a more equitable direction.

Don't miss out on 2016-17 student leadership positions, MnSCU Board of Trustees, and MSCSA annual awards!

Association Update 02-22-16


Upcoming Events:

February Student Leadership Conference

Dates: February 26-28, 2016
Location: Minnesota State Community and Technical College & Best Western -
Fergus Falls, MN
View event details.
FREE Hungry for Equity Partner Forum
Date: March 5, 2016
Location: Saint Paul College - Saint Paul, MN

D.C. Summit

Date: March 12-15, 2016
Location: Holiday Inn Capitol Smithsonian - Washington, D.C
View event details.

Advocacy Day

Date: March 22-23, 2016
Location: Holiday Inn East Saint Paul - Saint Paul, MN
Register by March 4, 2016.

From the Blog...

Q&A with new MSCSA Director of Programs & Events
Lindsay Barton
Q: Tell us about your work experience and educational background.
A: I graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Parks & Leisure Services. My emphasis is in Leisure Planning & Management and Resource Management. I have over six years of experience planning and managing programs and events. I have had the pleasure of working with a diverse group of people and organizations that include early education, higher education, recreation, and non-profits organizations. Prior to MSCSA, I spent the last three years organizing programs and events at the University of Minnesota.
Q: What interested you in working for MSCSA?
A: I am excited to be part of a great team and organization that is dedicated to supporting students and that strives to develop student leaders. I enjoy working with students and providing them with educational opportunities and encouragement. I appreciate being able to witness the growth and positive impact that occurs in students after participating in leadership development programs.
Q: What are some of the things that you have been working on and are excited to work on in the future?
A: Right now I am organizing a series of professional development courses that are offered to the public in the Rochester, MN and surrounding areas. The topics include leadership, communication, innovation and technology. I look forward to organizing the MSCSA student leadership conferences and generating an impactful experience. I am also excited to create relationships with the two-year colleges and students, and increase awareness about the opportunities at MSCSA.
Q: What interests do you have outside of work?A: Outside of work I enjoy watching baseball and football. Go Twins and Vikings! I enjoy traveling, festivals, sight-seeing, searching for the St. Paul Winter Carnival Medallion, all while spending time with my family.
Lindsay Barton graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato, earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Parks & Leisure Services with an emphasis in Leisure Planning and Management.
Since graduating, Lindsay has gained over six years of experience - planning and coordinating events in a variety of professional settings. These included early education, sports/recreation, non-profit organizations, and more recently higher education.
Before coming to MSCSA, Lindsay worked at the University of Minnesota’s Technological Leadership Institute where she organized and hosted events that brought together academic and industry thought leaders with graduate students, alumni, and members of the wider business community. She is passionate about her work, and understands the impact that highly engaged programs can bring to an organization.
In her spare time, Lindsay enjoys exploring the Twin Cities with her family.

Now Hiring: MnSCU BOT 

Job Description: Are you passionate about making life better for Minnesota community & technical college students? Do you want to advocate for lower tuition, more system transparency, and better student services? Interested in rubbing elbows with the Governor and adding an impressive credential to your resume? Apply to be an MSCSA endorsed candidate for the MnSCU Board of Trustees!
Time Commitment:
  • Approximately one two-day meeting per month at MnSCU headquarters
  • Approximately 5 hours per week in outreach and research
  • Monthly meeting with MSCSA Cabinet and Staff to prepare for Board meetings
Compensation: $55 per day spent on Board activities plus expenses, when approved by the Board

  • Current student that intends to attend a MnSCU college during the 2016-17 school year
  • Strong advocate for student interests
  • Willing to maintain open lines of communication with MSCSA staff and cabinet during Board appointment
  • Enthusiastic about MSCSA and advancing the interests of two-year college students across the state
How to Apply: Fill out the application and submit a cover letter and resume for the position. Applications are due by 11:59 PM Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Interviews will be held at the MSCSA office or by phone on Saturday, March 19.
Questions?: Contact Director of Policy Becca Branum at
branum@mscsa.org or Vice President Tim St. Claire at vice@mscsa.org.

Do you know someone who deserves a MSCSA award?

The annual awards dinner is a highlight of the MSCSA Spring General Assembly and we need your help to make it a meaningful and successful event. Think about the individuals you know who went the extra mile this year and nominate them for an award. The nomination process is simple: submit a brief letter of nomination and any supporting materials that you want to provide via the 'Nominate Here' button below. We are counting on you to help MSCSA recognize outstanding student leaders and student supporters!
  • Student Leader of the Year
    Student leaders come from all different backgrounds and carry so many diverse stories. A Student Leader of the Year is one who has excelled both academically, in the association, and in their community. This individual should be someone who has risen above all other students both in their actions and their attitude to bring their campus, the association, and the community together as well as give back to each of these communities.
  • Governing Council Member of the Year
    A Governing Council Member of the Year displays many great qualities within the association. They have exemplified the ideals of the organization, built relationship and effective teams within their region and have gone above their call to serve our students.
  • Platform Representative of the Year
    A Platform Committee Member of the Year is seen to display many qualities related to legislation in the association. However, one that has dedicated their time and effort to research and develop a working knowledge of the issues facing our students, our legislative agenda and then educate the students of their region displays qualities worthy of a nomination.
  • Student Senate of the Year
    Each year we honor one senate for taking their work above and beyond the call of duty. Past winners have had significant impact on their communities and campuses. In many cases, they have changed the lives of countless amounts of students for the better.
  • MnSCU Committee Member of the Year
    MnSCU committees are some of the most important venues for change across the state. Students who serve on these committees are essential in ensuring students have a voice on a variety of topics. Nominees should be students who have served or are serving on a MnSCU committee this year.
  • Alumni Member of the Year
    The Alumni of the Year award is to honor an alumni member of our organization. Nominees should have a continued and lasting impact on the lives of students or their community in ways that honor the mission and values of MSCSA
  • College President of the Year
    This award honors the exemplary work of a college president within the 2-year colleges of the MnSCU system. A nominee should display the qualities of being available to students for consultation and willing to discuss issues that affect the student body throughout the decision making process. Furthermore, a nominee should be proactive in wanting to create a welcoming and team environment for all cohorts of their college.
  • Instructor of the Year
    An instructor deserving of this prestigious award is one that not only connects with their students to deliver the subject material, but does it in ways that allows students of all learning methods to succeed. Previous award recipients have used creativity through technology and teaching styles to show students new learning methods that have shown high success rates in their class. Furthermore, past award recipients have ensured students have the support they need both in class and outside of class to provide them the best opportunity to excel in their college careers.
  • Student Senate Advisor of the Year
    This award honors a student senate advisor who has gone above and beyond the daily roles and responsibilities of advising the student senate on their operations and serving as their advocate. An advisor of the year is one that also serves as a mentor to student leaders in ways that allow them to grow in their education and careers.
Nominations are due by Friday, March 18, 2016.
Questions? Contact the MSCSA office at 651-297-5877.
Nominate Here

Take the next step in your student leadership journey! 

Do you want to run for a position on the MSCSA Cabinet (President, Vice President, Public Relations Coordinator, and Treasurer) or the Student-At-Large Platform Representative or Governing Council Representative?
According to the MSCSA Bylaws, in order to run for an officer or Student-at-Large position, you will need to submit the following items to the MSCSA office by March 18 at 5:00 p.m.:
  • The online application form; which includes submitting a photo, a candidate bio, and completing the questionnaire.
  • The MSCSA eligibility authorization form; which verifies that the candidate has a grade point average of 2.0 or higher and is currently registered for no less than six (6) credits at a MnSCU 2-year institution. (If you are mailing it in, the form must be postmarked by March 15)
Check out the position descriptions below to learn more about each role.

Now Hiring: MnSCU Board of Trustees

Wanted MnSCU BOTapplicants square
Job Description: 
Are you passionate about making life better for Minnesota community & technical college students? Do you want to advocate for lower tuition, more system transparency, and better student services? Interested in rubbing elbows with the Governor and adding an impressive credential to your resume? Apply to be an MSCSA endorsed candidate for the MnSCU Board of Trustees!

Time Commitment:

    • Approximately one two-day meeting per month at MnSCU headquarters
    • Approximately 5 hours per week in outreach and research
    • Monthly meeting with MSCSA Cabinet and Staff to prepare for Board meetings
    • Compensation$55 per day spent on Board activities plus expenses, when approved by the Board


    • Current student that intends to attend a MnSCU college during the 2016-17 school year
    • Strong advocate for student interests
    • Willing to maintain open lines of communication with MSCSA staff and cabinet during Board appointment
    • Enthusiastic about MSCSA and advancing the interests of two-year college students across the state

How to Apply: Fill out the application and submit a cover letter and resume for the position. Applications are due by 11:59 PM Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Interviews will be held at the MSCSA office or by phone on Saturday, March 19.

Questions?: Contact Director of Policy Becca Branum at bbranum@mscsa.org or Vice President Tim St. Claire at vice@mscsa.org.

News You Can Use: 02/15/16

Let’s Get Ready to Caucus!

Are you to excited to caucus? MSCSA sure is! Whether you’re “feeling the Bern” or you’re more of a “Trump-eter” – make your voice heard on March 1 as Minnesotans all over the state caucus to help choose the candidates that will represent the Democratic and Republican parties in the 2016 presidential election.

What’s a Caucus?

A caucus is a meeting where members of the community come together and nominate the person they want to represent their political party as a candidate for President of the United States. This year, Minnesotans will be caucusing on “Super Tuesday” along with 11 other states that will also be holding primaries or caucuses on the same day. So far, there hasn’t been a clear winner for either the Republican or Democratic nominee – meaning that it is more important than ever for you to participate and have your voice heard!

Why Should I Caucus?

So much of higher education policy is decided at the federal level. Student loans, textbook costs, veteran’s issues, equity & justice – so many of these issues are dealt with at a federal level. It is important that the voice of students is heard during the caucuses so that candidates and whoever wins the nomination is responsive to student concerns. Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, or something else entirely, MSCSA wants all students to have their voices heard so that all students can do better. To learn more about the prominent Presidential candidates, visit Ballotpedia.

How Do I Caucus?

To find your caucus location in Minnesota, visit the Secretary of State’s MnVotes website. To be eligible to caucus, you must be eligible to vote and live in the precinct in which you caucus. By law, your employer must allow you time off work to caucus, so long as you give ten days notice. To learn more, visit here. In addition, public universities and colleges may not hold meetings on caucus night so that all Minnesota students are able to have their voices heard. For information from the Minnesota Republican Party on caucusing, click here. Information on caucusing from the Minnesota Democratic-Farm-Labor (DFL) party is available here.

Happy caucusing!

News You Can Use: 01/29/16

New Minnesota Educational Debt Refinancing Program

Good news from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education! Do you or your family members struggle to make payments on your loans from college? Worried about being able to make payments after you graduate from a MnSCU community or technical college? The new Minnesota SELF Refi program might be able to help! SELF Refi is a state-sponsored loan refinancing program available to Minnesotans that have completed a postsecondary course of study and meet relevant credit criteria. 

What’s Refinancing?

Refinancing allows you to take the loans you currently have and potentially obtain a lower interest rate – saving you money on interest rates in the long term. SELF Refi offers 5, 10, and 15-year repayment windows and both fixed and variable interest rates. Fixed interest rates will stay the same throughout your entire repayment window but are a bit higher; variable interest rates are lower but fluctuate in response to market conditions – meaning you could be required to pay a higher interest rate in the future. Depending on the loans you have, SELF Refi may be able to offer you a lower interest rate than what you’re currently paying. Check out this handy repayment calculator to see if refinancing through this program makes sense for you.

Don’t Let Debt Keep You Down

We hear from students every day about how scared they are about the prospect of paying back their student loans. The average associate degree graduate in Minnesota leaves school with more than $20,000 debt – equaling a $200 per month payment for 10 years. For many people already struggling to make ends meet, $200 per month is too much to ask. Debt is scary, but know that you have options. The federal government and other loan programs often offer income-based repayment options. If you or your family are having trouble making payments or are already in default, check out this helpful information from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There are programs that can help you if you get into default – seeking help early can avoid many headaches down the road.

MSCSA knows how hard loans make the lives of students in Minnesota. That’s why we’re fighting for debt-free community college. To learn more about our campaign, visit the Renew Our Promise website.


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