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U of M Rochester students and vice-chancellor weighs in on school scholarship funding requests

Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The University of Minnesota is asking lawmakers to give the University $65 million dollars. The majority of the money would go towards scholarships for in-state freshmen students.

House Bill 2752 was heard in the House Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee:

  • (a) $65,000,000 in fiscal year 2023 is appropriated from the general fund to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota to increase access to higher education and reduce costs to students. Of this amount:
  • (1) $30,000,000 is to expand the University of Minnesota’s systemwide Promise Program to support students with financial need, including historically underrepresented students;
  • (2) $30,000,000 is for a Greater Minnesota Scholarship at the University of Minnesota to attract and retain students to the university’s Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester campuses; and
  • (3) $5,000,000 is to increase student academic advising, mental health and well-being, tutoring needs, and financial literacy services at the University of Minnesota in order to meet increasing student demands, increase equity through strengthening support for students with historically low retention and graduation rates, and more proactively address issues that slow down students’ progress toward degree completion.

A few students at UMR were pleased with the school’s efforts to financially support students.

“As an incoming freshman like looking at the cost for campus. It was a lot and it did kind of surprise me about how much I would be spending. So having the ability to have both scholarships is really nice,” a second-year student Mikayla Hanson said.”

“If there was more money to input for more freshmen coming in and help them with that deciding factor with going that University route, I highly encourage that,” a second-year student Kayla Masterman said.

“You’re allowing them to further their education. And that’s really important because our future is the future freshmen that’s coming in, so I think it would be really great,” second-year student Isaac Huiras said.

Vice Challencor, Jeffrey Ratliff-Crain said 40 percent of incoming students come from low-income homes and around 35 percent are first-generation college students.

“The success of many of these programs to support students that have been traditionally left out of higher ed. The investment that we’ve been able to make in our students and families in this state and being successful in bringing them in,” he said.

Why not lower tuition?

“We’ve got to pay the bills and tuition is set as a way for us to be able to budget to be able to plan ahead,” Ratliff-Craine said. “That we have the funding for the excellent teachers, the facilities, the supports and everything else that we need for the students.”

He said tuition is only a portion of what students pay for college.

“Scholarships like this help the entire cost of attendance, not just the tuition,” Ratliff-Craine said.

The University gave KTTC the information below on the scholarships:

Systemwide Promise Program

  • Targetting aid to students with the greatest need, including historically underrepresented.
  • Increase the current $4,000 award to students from families at the lowest income range to $5,300.
  • Increase each award moving up the income scale.
  • Expand the upper-income threshold for eligibility from $120,000 to $160,000 (twice the Minnesota median income) in support of middle income students who carry the most debt.
  • Increase the lowest award in the program for those at the higher income levels for approximately $300 to $1,300.

New Greater Minnesota Scholarship

  • Attracting and retaining students to UMC, UMD, UMM and UMR.
  • $4,000 to $5,000 in year one to every MN resident entering as a freshman at those campuses. An additional $1,000 to $2,000 per year is available to each of those students annually for year 2 through 4.
  • This program is over and above all other existing aid programs. These estimates cover the total Minnesota enrollment as it stands today, plus support growth towards the enrollment goal for each of these campuses.

Instate tuition for undergrad is $28,942. If the scholarship funding is approved, a freshman could receive $10,000 off tuition if eligible for both scholarships.

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