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Local Representatives John Persell and Roger Erickson Hold Round Table Discussion at BSU to Highlight Higher Education Investments

ST. PAUL, MN – Today, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy and State Representatives John Persell (DFL – Bemidji) and Roger Erickson (DFL – Baudette) visited Bemidji State University and held a roundtable discussion to listen to Bemidji students and administrators and highlight new investments the 2013 legislature made in higher education. Legislators listened to students and BSU administrators talk about the importance of higher education, focusing largely on the cost of rising tuition and student debt over the past decade. At BSU, tuition has gone from $5,246 in 2006 to $7,145 this year.

“Skyrocketing tuition and debt is pricing too many Minnesota students out of a quality education and that has a significant economic impact for the future of our state,” said House Majority Leader Erin Murphy. “As we start a new school year, it is exciting to join students and educators in Bemidji to talk about the progress we made this session to make a college degree more affordable for Minnesotans.”

This year, after a decade of declining support for state colleges and universities, the Legislature reversed course, providing a $250 million investment in higher education. The legislature focused those resources primarily on ways to reduce tuition and debt for Minnesota students that have seen their tuition almost double in just ten years. New state dollars will freeze tuition at every state college and university. The Legislature also added $75 million in new funding for the State Grant Program that provides education funding for low and middle income students.

"Freezing tuition at Minnesota's 2 and 4 year schools is going to help make college more affordable for students working families," said Rep. Persell. "After years of rising tuition, I'm happy we were able to take this positive step towards lowering costs for college students.”

"Events like this are such a great way to talk with the people who are impacted most by our legislation," said Rep. Erickson. "For students in our area, these new investments in higher education are going to be big. It's great to be able to talk with students and community members and see how this might help them get the education they're looking for."

The higher education bill also includes new reforms to expand the oversight function of the legislature. This session, State Rep. Pelowski, chair of the House Higher Education committee, held fourteen hearings on the dramatic increase in student tuition, fees, and debt over the past six years, examined student-to-faculty ratios, and scrutinized administrative costs and trends over the past decade. The product of that work can be seen in new reforms that ensure public dollars are used in the most efficient and effective way possible.


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