If there is one thing that MnSCU loves, it’s a committee meeting. System-level committees are well under way for the 2015-16 academic year. Following appointments by President Parker at the September Student Leadership Conference, MSCSA members have attended a wide variety of committee meetings that serve as deliberative and advisory bodies to MnSCU administration. MSCSA students attend these meetings to advocate for the interests of MnSCU college students and participate in the MnSCU policy-development process. The meetings that MSCSA attends generally fall into three broad categories – Academic and Student Affairs Consultation Committees, Chancellor and Board of Trustee meetings, and other ad-hoc committee meetings convened by MnSCU administrators.
In the month of September, MSCSA had particularly positive meetings on the topics of credit transfer and campus diversity. In September, the Transfer Oversight Committee recommended that computer science classes be considered for inclusion in the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum. This recommendation is an exciting development for MSCSA students that will broaden the variety of courses available for transfer from colleges to universities in the MnSCU system. Other exciting news comes from the newly-formed Student Diversity Task Force. Convened by Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Toyia Younger, the task force intends to give students a voice at the system-level on issues pertaining to diversity and inclusion on campus. Although the task force remains in the development stage, MSCSA is enthusiastic for the opportunity to voice the diversity-related concerns of students at the system office.
MSCSA represents students at MnSCU through these committees and several more – in monthly meetings with Chancellor Rosenstone, meetings with state regulators at the Office of Higher Education, and through testimony before the MnSCU Board of Trustees. In October, President Parker testified before the Board of Trustees to emphasize MSCSA’s commitment to the Charting the Future process and the system’s combined interest in fulfilling the goals identified by the MnSCU Leadership Council.
If you have any topics that you would like MSCSA to discuss at upcoming meetings with MnSCU leadership, please contact Director of Policy Becca Branum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twenty students from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities have been nominated and selected to receive the Mark M. Welter World Citizen Award with $500 to be used for tuition, fees, and books during the 2015-2016 academic year, totaling $10,000 in scholarships.
Congratulations go to the following award recipients:
This award, through the generosity of Dr. Mark Welter, provides an annual tribute to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities students who most exemplify the thoughts, words, and actions demanded by a 21st century world citizen. The award recipients are nominated by college/university faculty and staff and share some or all of the following beliefs/commitments:
If you would like additional information on the Mark M. Welter World Citizen Award or would like to contribute to the Minnesota State College Student Association, please contact Joyce Petsch, Development Assistant at email@example.com or 651-203-9464.
Below is a story from one of the scholarship recipients, Maureen McCarthy, and demonstrates the amazing work that these students are doing for our world.
In the spring of 2014 Maureen McCarthy, Therapeutic Recreation – College of Nursing student, took the Winona State University Travel Study class to Jamaica. The class is sponsored by the WSU Special Education Department and includes living in a home for adolescent boys, visiting local schools, a service day of painting and hand-mixing concrete, and touring institutions in Kingston. Maureen took the third-world life lessons to heart and immediately started working to make a difference.
Maureen took her love and passion for Jamaica and helped promote the 2015 travel study. By collecting donations, monetary as well as clothes and school supplies, she contributed them to the 2015 Jamaica travel study class to distribute. She continues to help the instructors recruit for the class speaking at information sessions and encouraging her friends to register. Maureen traveled to Jamaica again this past summer and lived for an extended time at the boys’ home, mentoring and tutoring the boys. Most recently, she and a classmate who had gone with her to Jamaica both times formed a business selling inspirational artwork so they can further support Jamaica. One Kind Person has the mission “to inspire others to find their passion as we chase ours.” Maureen had a life changing experience and now works to positively change the lives of others.
Association Update 10-26-15
No one likes filling out the FAFSA, but recent changes by the Obama administration will make the financial aid application process less painful for students. On September 14, President Obama announced changes to existing policy that will allow students to access and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form in October rather than January of the year in which they enter college. In addition, several questions about family income will be removed and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will provide income data to determine eligibility. These seemingly small changes will help students make wise financial decisions regarding their higher education and lessen the burden of applying for aid.
The federal government and colleges use the FAFSA to determine eligibility for a variety of need-based aid programs, including Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), and federally subsidized student loans. Previous policy only permitted students to access the FAFSA application in January, limiting the amount of time available to students to weigh their grant and aid eligibility against the costs of attending college. Beginning in October 2016, students will have early access to the FAFSA form and many questions about family income will no longer be necessary – rather than rely on colleges to verify financial information provided by students, the FAFSA will use the financial and tax data provided by the IRS to determine aid eligibility.
These changes will benefit students nation-wide. Student and higher education advocacy organizations have pushed for FAFSA reform for years, noting that the complicated application is burdensome to students and can be a barrier to first generation and low-income students that may not have access to any services to help fill out the form. These barriers translate into available grants going unclaimed. According to the U.S. Department of Education, during the 2011-12 academic year, 2 million students who would have qualified for Pell Grants received no funding – simply because they did not fill out the FAFSA form. A streamlined, simplified process will make the FAFSA more accessible and mean that more students will have access to need-based funding in the future.
To learn more about efforts to reform the FAFSA application, visit the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Post Secondary Success Initiative.