MnSCU Students March To Protest Tuition Hikes

By Holly Wagner, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO/AP) — Around 400 students from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system rallied on the steps of the Capitol against tuition increases.

The students chanted, “Tuition is a tax, keep it off our backs!” Many in the crowd wore red caps with the word “tuition” on them because they’re asking for a tuition cap.

They marched to the Capitol from St. Paul College.

The group, Student Tuition is Overpriced, organized the rally as a Senate Committee prepares to hold a hearing this afternoon on a bill that would freeze tuition rates at state colleges and universities for the next two years.

Among the speakers was Sen. John Carlson, R-Bemidji, is one of the authors of the bill. He told the crowd the state has to stop balancing the budgets of universities on the backs of students.

Travis Johnson is a student at Lake Superior College and the President of Minnesota State College Student Association. Johnson says he’s working 40 hours a week and taking out loans to put himself through school.

He says tuition at Minnesota’s public colleges as increased by 100 percent in the last decade. The state’s two year colleges are ranked the third most expensive in the country.

“We need to do something to limit these increases,” he said.

Andrew Spaeth is a student at Bemidji State University and the chair of Minnesota State University Student Association. He says he’s not only worried about his tuition costs, but also for future generations. He’s one of nine children in his family.

“My youngest brother is 7 years old. If we continue on this same trend, by the time he’s a college student, he’ll pay double what I paid for a public higher education,” Spaeth said. “I don’t even want to think about what kind of debt he would carry after four or five years in college. It’s a scary thought.”

Sheila Wright, director of the Office of Higher Education, told the crowd the budget Gov. Mark Dayton proposed Tuesday seeks to protect grant programs for college students.

Lawmakers from both the DFL and Republican parties took part in the students rally at the Capitol.

Dayton’s budget includes $171 million in cuts to higher education.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Bruce Hagevik Reports

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More from Holly Wagner

    This is funny, maybe they should ask the schools to cut wasteful spending instead of legislators to feed the system more money.

    Or maybe we stub subsidizing the educations of students from outside of the united states?

    • Ginger Shepla

      I agree, protest at the colleges they are the ones that set the tuitions. If you really can’t afford an exspensive college what makes you think the taxpayers can afford to pay your way? Maybe look at something cheaper like a Community College.

      • Laura

        MnSCU includes most, if not all, of the state’s community colleges, as a matter of fact.

    • Luke D

      Why is all spending WASTEFUL?? Where are the reports, documented research indicating waste, mismanagement and fraud?? The education system is what, just a cancerous tumor feeding off of unsuspecting taxpayers??

  • ann

    Please tell us what the wasteful spending is? give us facts and figures

    • AG

      Here’s a good waste figure…When I was a freshman in college (this was 6 years ago), we did the math to figure out what we were paying for room and board on a monthly and per meal basis, respectively. To split your standard freshman 1 room door with my roommate, it came out to a little over $500/month. Meaning they were charging the two of us nearly $1,100/mo for a tiny ~15×15 ft room. Our meals? those averaged out to about $10-12 meal for very sub-par food. We were given X amount of meals per week (I was on the 17 meals/week plan I believe) and if we didn’t use them that week we lost them (no rollover) and we weren’t allowed to use 2 at once, say if we had a friend or relative visiting. I understand there is other costs involved but I really doubt that they are being efficient in their spending if a 15×15 room costs $1100 and 3 day old pizza and salisbury steak goes for $12.

      • Laura

        That’s not their wasteful spending, that’s their wasteful charging! More than likely they are using that to subsidize some part of their housing budget, like having RAs to monitor the rooms, having security, etc.

        I agree with you, for that matter. I go to the UofM for graduate studies and even things like the campus “convenience” stores gouge the students on basic stuff. I remember when I was an undergraduate, the point of living on campus and of buying things on campus was that it was cheaper, as a service to the students. Now they see it as a convenience to the students and charge more. But this is exactly the sort of thing that students should be protesting!


    I would LOVE to spend my morning digging around looking for MnSCU waste, but I have work to do. I attended a MnSCU college and the waste was everywhere. From the RSO’s, to the teacher sabbaticals, the ridiculous amount of administration.

    My personal favorite though is the use it or loose it budget. If I don’t spend every dime of my budget this year, I won’t be getting is next year which is how all of the allocation is done in MnSCU.

    I will say there has been some improvement, but like anything run “primary” by the government, there is waste piling up everywhere.

    • Todd W. Olson

      In other words, you offer nothing but anecdotal evidence. Indeed, why let facts stand in the way of a strongly held opinion?

  • glenn wendell

    Not only a strongly held opinion, but a logical and ethical one. We the people of Minnesota are sick and tired of listening to the 9 through 12 education system and also the state colleges constantly wining about their need for more and more money. This has to stop. There are alot of waste in the education system and one of the largest is the teachers union etc., etc., etc…..and, oh I forgot, all the administrations of the different high schools and colleges. If I was in the legislature, education would be cut 50% right off the bat, but fortunately I have better and more important things to do than sit in the state capitol with all the pathetic liberals and their educational cronies. I have a productive life to lead rather than cost the state money by being on the public dole.

    • Luke D

      Mr Wendell — please reconsider your emotional response masquerading as an ethical and logical one, as your opinion is neither. I am tired of hearing about “alot of waste” in the education system. I am pretty well acquainted with the system, having school-age kids, a wife who’s a teacher, and being a college student myself. While noone would advocate throwing money into a black hole, the education system is one that has a TREMENDOUS return on investments made (financial and labor) in to it. Find a GOOD place to search for waste; and in the mean time, consider paying more taxes to ensure a first – rate education system for all!!

  • Jay Anderson

    Each year students can receive over $5000 in grants (money from the government); yet the 3-year graduation rate for community colleges is less than 30% (that includes how many graduate in 2 and 3 years with a 2 year degree). Thus, the government has a 70% chance of paying out over $5,000/year/student who was supposed to have only taken 2 years to graduate. That is just one example…

    • joe

      Yup… and the existance of grant money only causes tuitions to go up because the greedy colleges capture the grants by being able to increase tuitions.

  • msche

    Funding to higher educatiion is easy to cut. Those that want to go will figure out a way to pay for it. Besides my tax dollars have to go to every obese 75 year old who needs diabetes medication or their knees replaced. Oh wait, that’s so they can get out in November and vote me back in!

  • Whatever

    A march will not do a damn thing. Until people stop going to the colleges raising tuition the price hikes will not stop.

    • Matthew

      Actually it can do something. There is a bill in the legislature that will freeze tuition at all schools, including the U of M campuses for a couple years. After that tuition can only rise as inflation goes up. MnSCU and U of M bigwigs and school professors do not want this to happen, as higher tuition means higher paychecks. College students standing up for what they believe in will in turn show the house and senate that we are very serious about this and won’t sit around any longer.

  • Ali

    We need to stop the life long pensions of profs and other admin people. That is not a sustainable policy. They need to go on 401(k) like the rest of us. These students are protesting at the wrong place. How about my rights to keep what I earn? Cut taxes and cut all funding to all colleges.

  • Joe

    It always amazes me to see college kids protesting about high tuition one week and then the next week they stand in protest with the teachers and their unions against layoffs or no pay increases.

    College tuitions have risen by double digits every year for the past decade or so and they are way too high. I recently read that student loan debt is more than credit card debt in America. Many graduates are finding no jobs when they finish school and are moving back in with mom & dad but they still have to start paying on their loans. Tuitions are up primarily due to the high pay and benefits for teachers and administrative staff. If you support a freeze on college tuitions (or lowering back to sustainable levels) then you should be protesting to your teachers and their unions for being so damb greedy.

  • Parent

    It is true. Go to college but good luck finding a job when you get out!

    Why are you going to college again? Hmmm….

    Who is paying the teachers? Why?

  • Jay Anderson

    The only reason these students are protesting is because the increase could potentially go above what grants will cover. As long as grants cover the entire tuition, what is the urgency to finish college, especially when you can receive grants for 18 semesters in ones lifetime (9 years x over 5,000/year). Again…another example…

  • Matthew

    Actually rally day happens every two years for MnSCU schools. This isn’t the first time we’ve held a rally at the Capitol. And also you clearly aren’t up to date on federal aid. I only receive 2,000 year in grants. and another 4,000in loans. so that has to be paid back. Lastly, there are many college students who do not receive any sort of grant and can only receive loans.

  • Jay Anderson

    Matthew – HA HA HA!!!! Don’t even know where to start with you as you are that clueless about financial aid. Just because YOU only receive $2000 in grants (which is based upon your income or yours and your parents depending on dependent/independent) doesn’t mean others don’t qualify for FULL grants (which total over $5,000/year). As for the many students who can only receive loans (or part loans like yourself)…you should be complaining as well beings the wasteful spending is part of why TUITION hikes happen!!!

  • Broke College Student

    I go to a state college here in MN. Three years ago, my dad lost his job and was unemployed for 2 YEARS! He was unemployed when we filled out the FAFSA last year for this year’s tuition. Neither one of my parents went to college, so they don’t make a lot of money. I recieved NO grants and about $9,000 in loans. (Tuition is about $15,000.) I have to work two jobs while taking 17 credits just to make something of myself and get a college education so that I don’t end up in the same boat as my parents. I can’t get any student loans from any banks because I don’t have a co-signer. My WHOLE family is in the same boat as my parents.

    One month after I started college, my home got foreclosed on and my parents had to file for bankruptcy. The college couldn’t do anything to help me.

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