Monday, April 9, 2012

April 2012 MSUSA Update



MSUSA Spring Delegates April 13-15 Cragun's Resort in Brainerd, MN

The MSUSA Delegates Assembly and Board of Directors will be meeting at the Cragun's Resort in Brainerd, Minnesota.

Things will kick off Friday night with Internal Affairs and the election for the FY 2012-2013 State Chair.

On Saturday, the conference attendees will spend the first half of the day in work groups in preparation for the Delegates Assembly, which will culminate in the election of the 2012-2013 Vice Chair and Treasurer.

Sunday, the final day of the conference, the Board will meet to pass any motions that come out of the Delegates Assembly, approve the final conference schedule for 2012-2013, set the Fiscal Year 2013 budget and much more.

For more information on the weekend click here.


MSUSA Textbook Survey Receives Great Student Response

In an effort to learn more about issues related to textbooks, MSUSA recently collected responses from state university students in an online survey.  We are pleased to report that 1,231 students responded to the survey, which collected information about textbook costs, buying/renting textbooks, the use of e-books, availability of textbook information and more.

In addition to responding to the questions, many students who completed the survey added comments to various questions.  MSUSA plans to compile a report of the data and information collected, and will release that report later this spring.   It's clear that the issue of textbook costs is a significant one for today's students, and MSUSA will use the survey information in our work to reduce the cost of textbooks.  Thank you to everyone who filled out the survey!

Legislative Update

State Legislature  

MnSCU Textbook Work Group – Included in both the House and Senate

This provision was one of the key initiatives of MSUSA during the 2012 session because increasing textbook costs are a serious problem for students. This work group will bring together stakeholders in an effort to investigate methods to reduce textbook costs for students.

Textbook Information and Professor Requirement Changes – Included in both the House and Senate, but not identical language.

MSUSA has worked closely with Rep. King Banaian to change some of the requirements of professors and bookstores in order to provide more information to students as they shop for their textbooks.

MnSCU Revenue Fund Increase -- $105 million increase included in both bills

MnSCU has the ability to sell revenue bonds to fund projects needed on campus. MnSCU is limited by the state legislature to the amount allowable for outstanding revenue bonds. Currently the limit is $300 million. MnSCU is approximately $40 million dollars away from hitting that level and has asked the legislature to increase that limit to $430 million (the current capacity). MSUSA supports the increase.

MnSCU Continued Operation in the Event of a State Shutdown – Included in Senate only

This provision will allow MnSCU to continue operating in the case of a state shutdown. Prior to the 2011 state government shutdown there was no law allowing MnSCU to continue with the classes that were ongoing at the time.

Greater MN Internship Grant Program

This internship grant program provides a grant to businesses in Greater MN (statutorily designated as all areas outside of the seven county metro area) that hire paid interns who are enrolled in a MnSCU, U of M or private non-profit college or University.

Capital Investment (Bonding)

The House, Senate and Governor have all released their 2012 bonding proposals. Click here to see all four proposals side-by-side.

Constitutional Amendment Requiring Photo ID for Voting (Voter ID)

Both the House and the Senate have passed a constitutional amendment requiring a government issued identification in order to vote. The question will be put to the voters in November 2012. 

Federal Government

Stafford Loan Interest Rate Increase

On July 1, 2012 the interest rate charged by the US Government to students who take out Stafford Loans is scheduled to double. The current rate is 3.4% and on July 1 it will double to 6.8%. This increase affects more than 8 million students nationwide and 302,000 in Minnesota alone.

As outlined in the Time magazine article “Students, Your Loan Interest Rate is About to Double,”  an average Stafford Loan recipient will pay an additional $2,800 more over a 10-year repayment term with the increased interest rate. It also states a student who borrows the maximum $23,000 in subsidized Stafford loans will pay $5,000 more over 10-years and more than $11,000 more over a 20-year repayment plan.

MSUSA is dedicated to advocating that the reduced interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans be maintained and that it is not at the expense of the Pell Grant.

For more weekly updates on the legislative activity of the Minnesota State University Student Association check out our blog every Friday.


2012 Lobby Corps Report

The MSUSA Lobby Corps efforts this session have been very active and effective. We have had visits with each campus to the Capitol or intense lobbying efforts on the campus of all of our schools. We have met with numerous legislators, the Secretary of State and staff to discuss the major issues of the 2012 session.

Here are some highlights from 2012 Lobby Corps visits:
  
  1.  Students from St. Cloud State University worked with Rep. King Banaian to draft changes to current law on textbook notification and a MnSCU Textbook Work Group. The legislation will ultimately lead to students having more information on alternative methods to purchase required texts and lower overall textbook costs.

  2.  Students from Bemidji State University asked Sen. John Carlson to be the lead Senate author for the textbook legislation and completed two trips to the Capitol.

        
  3. Students from Winona State University worked hard to get Sen. Jeremy Miller to oppose the constitutional amendment related to the voter ID requirement. He was the lone member of the majority to vote against the proposed amendment on the floor. WSU President Jack Linehan also testified in front of the House Taxes Committee for the Greater MN Internship Tax Credit proposal. His testimony helped the bill gain a lot of support and with a few tweaks the proposal was included in the House Taxes final bill.

        
  4. Minnesota State University Moorhead students have completed two trips to the Capitol this session and played an important role in the discussion around the voter ID amendment and the higher ed bills. The students also met with Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to discuss the alternatives to Voter ID that would show someone's identity before they cast a ballot in order to preserve same-day registration.

        
  5. Metropolitan State University students met with each member of the Senate Higher Ed Committee on their visit to the Capitol and pushed the textbook legislation and the increase in MnSCU's revenue fund authority so they could complete two very important projects on their campus; the new parking structure and a student center.

        
  6. Southwest Minnesota State University students completed two very important trips to St. Paul this year. First, they met with their local legislators and convinced them to push the Chairs of Capital Investment on the importance of HEAPR funds and spoke to specific projects on the SMSU campus in dire need of repair. On the second trip they watched the debate of the House Higher Education Omnibus Bill which turned into a very contentious debate over proper committee rules and the minority's role in the process.

        
  7. Minnesota State University, Mankato students visited with legislators from all across the state as part of a "Mankato Day at the Capitol." The students got to voice the importance of local bonding projects and the out of control textbook costs they are seeing on their campus.

We have a few more trips planned during 2012 and are hoping that one final push is all we need to get some of our legislative objectives passed into law.

Graduating? Join the Alumni Association! 

Have you been actively involved with the work of MSUSA during your college career? Are you graduating this spring, but still want to stay involved advocating for the interests of state university students in Minnesota? Well you're in luck. By joining the MSUSA Alumni Association you can stay involved with our advocacy efforts, network with other alumni and mentor current students.

Contact MSUSA Director of Communications, Jered Weber at jweber@msusa.org or 651.224.1518 to sign up for our monthly alumni updates and to learn how you can continue your work on behalf of state university students well beyond graduation.

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