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      Addressing Higher Education Costs Through Reform

      Posted on April 17, 2012 at 12:07 PM

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      As part of Governor Mark Dayton’s Better Government for a Better Minnesota reform initiative, state government officials are turning their attention to the rising costs of higher education.

      Last week, Governor Dayton, Senator Franken, and Office of Higher Education Director Larry Pogemiller met with students from around the state to discuss the challenges they face, including higher tuition costs and crippling student debt.  At the same time, state higher education funding per student has fallen by 48% since 2000.  Colleges are trying to educate students with far fewer resources, and many of the costs are now falling to students themselves. These obstacles are limiting Minnesota students’ educational opportunities and are making it more difficult for them to gain the education they need to succeed in the workforce.

      After Monday’s meeting in Minneapolis, OHE Director Pogemiller toured the state to get feedback from other colleges.  He traveled to Austin and Winona last week to discuss the rising costs of college for students. He stressed the need for the state to return higher education funding to historical levels to help students manage their costs.  The Office of Higher Education already works to provide tips to current and prospective students on how they can lower the costs of a college education, and the department strives to improve the resources they offer.

      Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) chancellor Steve Rosenstone has also moved forward in addressing high tuition costs, as reported in a Star Tribune editorial by Lori Sturdevant. Rosenstone has introduced a multiphase, long-term project called the Workforce Assessment Initiative that will preserve Minnesota’s reputation as an education innovator. This project calls upon business owners to describe their future workforce needs, and for educators and state government to better prepare students to meet those needs. State government supports the goals of higher education institutions in our state; the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has partnered with MnSCU and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce in the Workforce Assessment Initiative in an effort to reform education and help prepare students for the workforce of the future.

      The Dayton administration understand that a well-educated, high-quality workforce is essential for the economic health and prosperity of our state. They are committed to addressing these challenges in order to ensure that Minnesota’s colleges, universities, and students continue to be among the best in the nation.