With fall comes a new start to the school year for college students; for many of you, we welcome you back to your temporary home, and for new students, we invite you into our area for the first time. Our cities are greatly enriched by our local colleges, and students are a valued part of our communities. You contribute to our local economy, you vote, and you help build a strong foundation for our state and country for years to come.
Whether or not you are a resident of Minnesota, you may not know what the legislature has accomplished in recent years for students, or what the near future looks like for higher education in this state. Minnesota is rightfully proud of our education system at all levels, but we still have work to do to make sure higher education is accessible and affordable to all those who need it.
Last year’s legislative session saw important reforms in higher education, including a $7 million expansion of the State Grant Program, allowing more students to use this resource to help pay for college. The legislature also took the first steps in establishing the PIPELINE Project, which partners colleges and students with high-demand fields like information technology and health care services in a system similar to the “apprentice style” learning experience in Germany.
This upcoming session begins in March, and I expect we will continue to work at making college more affordable for students. There is already a strong push for greater accountability from our institutes of higher education, and I hope to push that movement into one that addresses the costs of a degree at its source. Student loan reform is critical, but if the price of college continues to rise so quickly, lower interest rates can’t be the only answer. I welcome your stories and suggestions about how to make college a realistic option for students and families.
If you have a question about any activity at the Minnesota Legislature, or want to share your thoughts about an issue you feel passionately about, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at 651.296.1279, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.