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Forum News Service, Published February 13 2013

Minnesota students seek higher ed funding increase

ST. PAUL – Laura Duscher and Brittany Stanoch say they are Minnesota’s future, so they suggest looking back to 1999.

A contradiction? Not for state college and university students. They want 1999 to be in Minnesotans’ sights because they say that is the last time the state gave higher education institutions a decent funding increase.

“We care about affordable education,” Duscher said during a state Capitol rally attended by several hundred students from across the state.

Stanoch, like Duscher a Bemidji State University nursing student, said the $30,000 debt she expects to build up by graduation is just too much.

The budget rally by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system students was smaller than usual Wednesday, due in part to an agreement among Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Democrats in charge of the House and Senate about the need to increase funding.

Dayton’s $38 billion, two-year budget proposal includes $2.8 billion for higher education, a $250 million increase. Of the budget, $1.2 billion would go to MnSCU’s 31 colleges and universities scattered around the state.

Higher education funding has gone up more slowly than other state spending, and was cut two years ago.