Today, Governor Dayton spoke to a group of 300 college students from across Minnesota will hear from Governor Mark Dayton about issues affecting higher education, including the Governor’s efforts to make college more affordable for Minnesotans.
During the past decade, tuition and fees have increased by three times the rate of inflation. Meanwhile, Minnesota students are taking out loans at one of the highest rates in the nation, with the average graduate leaving school with $29,800 in student debt. This trend isn’t sustainable or fair to Minnesotans seeking a better future.
One student struggling with the increasing cost of school is Rahel Theodros. A full-time college student from Columbia Heights studying business marketing education at the University of Minnesota. In addition to her studies, Rahel works 15-20 hours per week as a waitress and is heavily involved in volunteering and numerous campus activities.
Rahel has a younger sister and an older brother who are also attending college right now. She is one of nearly 100,000 Minnesota students who rely on the Minnesota State Grant program to pay for college.
In addition to the State Grant funding she receives, Rahel has also had to take out $5,000 to $6,000 in student loans each year. She anticipates that she will graduate with more than $20,000 in student debt. “Without the Minnesota State Grant Program,” she said, “I would not have been able to afford tuition.”
Today, Governor Mark Dayton was at the Minnesota State College Student Association Leadership Summit in Bloomington to talk about new efforts to help students like Rahel. This year, Governor Dayton and the DFL Legislature invested $250 million in higher education – including $46 million for direct financial aid to students. The new financial aid resources are helping more than 100,000 Minnesota students.
The Governor’s new budget also freezes tuition at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. The freeze will help keep college costs under control and ensure that all Minnesotans can access an affordable education.
Minnesota is strongest when our students have access to an affordable, world-class education. By 2018, an estimated 70 percent of jobs in Minnesota will require some education beyond high school, but only 40 percent of Minnesotans hold post-secondary degrees.
We cannot let out-of-control costs prevent Minnesota students from pursuing a higher education. The Governor’s investment will help make college more affordable for all Minnesota students – including Rahel.