Monday, May 14, 2012

May 2012 MSUSA Update

MSUSA Elects 2012-2013 Officers

The Minnesota State University Student Association (MSUSA) is pleased to announce the election of its 2012-2013 officers. Moriah Miles was elected as State Chair, Dea Price was elected Vice Chair, and Matt Lindquist was elected Treasurer.

State Chair Elect, Moriah Miles is from Sioux Falls, SD. She is attending Minnesota State University, Mankato where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations.

Vice Chair Elect, Dea Price is from Hopkins, MN. She is attending Metropolitan State University where she is pursuing a Masters of Public Administration.

Treasurer Elect, Matt Lindquist is from Mankato, Minnesota.  He is attending Minnesota State University, Mankato where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Finance.

Elections took place the weekend of the April 13-15 in Brainerd, MN during the MSUSA Spring Delegates Assembly. The new officers will take office June 1st, 2012

Metropolitan State University Student Wins Textbook Survey Kindle Drawing

We are happy to announce that Metropolitan State University student, Zong Xiong won the textbook survey Kindle Fire drawing.

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.  MSUSA plans to compile a report of the data and information collected, and will release that report in the future. 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

Higher Ed Policies Signed into Law

The higher education omnibus bill, SF 1573, was passed and signed into law by Gov. Dayton. The bill includes many provisions that MSUSA worked hard to get passed and are important to student success and reducing costs.

The first major provision is the textbook language which includes the establishment of a work group to study methods that result in lower textbook costs for students. This was one of MSUSA’s key policy initiatives. MSUSA hopes that this work group will improve the delivery of textbooks to students to enhance the learning experience while also reducing the out-of-control costs.

The next major initiative MSUSA helped pass is the continuing operations language that will allow colleges and universities to continue serving students if a government shutdown were to happen again. Last year there was confusion about the possibility of summer courses ending early without credit awarded because of the state shutdown. This provision will clarify what happens in the event of a state shutdown in the future.

The bill also includes an increase in the revenue fund authority from $300 million to $405 million. This language will allow campuses the opportunity to evaluate and plan, in consultation with students, for the future of revenue generating facilities including, but not limited to: residence halls, student unions, dining facilities, and parking.

MnSCU Bonding Projects

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) was appropriated $132 million $94.7 million in bonding projects and asset preservation. The university projects are listed below:

  •   $20 million for HEAPR
  •   $500 thousand for Southwest Minnesota State University science lab renovation;
  •   $2.5 million for the system wide STEM renovation;
  •   $2.065 million for Minnesota State University, Mankato clinical science building design
  •   $3.303 million for Bemidji State University business building addition/renovation design and demolition
The remaining dollars were used for projects at the MnSCU college campuses.

Doubling of the Stafford Loan Interest Rate

The US House passed a bill that would extend the 3.4% interest rate one more year by cutting a controversial part of the healthcare reform law. The US Senate took action on a bill on May 8th that would have also extended the 3.4% for one year but the bill failed to reach the 60 votes needed to break the filibuster.

MSUSA is urging our congressional representatives to continue working together to find a solution to this problem. Student loan debt has recently grown to more than $1 trillion. On average, the doubling of the interest rate would add approximately $1,000 for every year a student takes out a loan, adding up to more than $4,000 over a four-year education. This rate hike could not come at a worse time.

The national recession has led to weak state economies, which in turn have squeezed college budgets. The result is higher tuition costs being passed on to students and families throughout the country. In 2011, 46 states dealt with budget shortfalls, resulting in double-digit tuition increases. In Minnesota we had historic cuts our higher education systems and our universities all saw a tuition increase.

We must continue our work to keep a college education within reach by stopping interest rates on subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling this July.

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

MSUSA Participates in Events with U.S. Representative McCollum and Senator Franken

Rep. Betty McCollum Listening Session

On the morning of Monday, April 30th students from MSUSA and the Minnesota State College Student Association (MSCSA) were able to sit down with U.S. Congresswoman, Betty McCollum at Century College in White Bear Lake to share their stories. The main focus on the listening session was on the proposed increase to the Federal Stafford loan interest rate, but stories were shared regarding many other issues students face while trying to pay for college.

Sen. Al Franken Press Conference

Later in the morning on Monday, April 30th student leaders from MSUSA and MSCSA participated in a press conference with U.S. Senator, Al Franken to address the doubling of student loan interest rates and to introduce the Senator's bill aimed at simplifying the financial aid awards process by creating standardized student financial aid letters.

2012 Spring Penny Program Fellows

The MSUSA and the Penny Program Board would like to congratulate its 2012 Penny Fellowship and Scholarship winners.

Ryan Newbloom is being awarded a $5,000 Timothy J. Penny Federal Public Service Fellowship, and is pursuing an internship with a Congressional office in Washington, D.C.  Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Ryan is attending Normandale Community College and eventually plans to obtain a degree in political science.

Alexandra Griffin is being awarded a $5,000 Timothy J. Penny Federal Public Service Fellowship to intern with Wisconsin Congressman Senator Ron Kind in Washington, D.C. Originally from Hillsboro, Wisconsin; Alexandra is attending Winona State University where she is pursuing a degree in public administration and political science.

Margaret Pence is being awarded a $5,000 Timothy J. Penny Federal Public Service Fellowship to intern with The Fund for American Studies in Washington, D.C. Originally from Westport, South Dakota, Margaret is attending Minnesota State University, Mankato where she is pursuing a degree in international relations and communication studies.

Kayla Winstrom is being awarded a $1,500 Barbara J. Penny Community Service Scholarship for her lifelong dedication to volunteerism, including her current work with Student Ambassadors and Health Peers Reaching Out. Originally from Osceola, Wisconsin, Kayla is attending Minnesota State University, Mankato where she is pursuing a degree in dental hygiene.

Kao Xing is being awarded a $1,500 Barbara J. Penny Community Service Scholarship for his leadership in community service including his mentorship work with the AmeriCorps and Picture My Neighborhood Program. Originally from Rochester, Minnesota, Kao is attending Winona State University, where he is pursuing a degree in mathematics and math education.

For more information on the Penny Program click here.

Jared P. Stene Student Leadership Scholarship 2012 Spring Recipient

The Minnesota State University Student Association (MSUSA) and the Jared P. Stene Student Leadership Scholarship Board are pleased to honor Francis Ray Cristobal for his commitment to student leadership at Metropolitan State University. Francis has been chosen to receive the $2,000 Spring 2012 award.

Francis, originally from Iligan, Phillippines, has a Bachelor of Arts in Management Information Systems and International Business from Augsburg College and a Masters in Management Information Systems from Metropolitan State University where he is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Aviation Management to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot.

Francis is active in student organizations at Metropolitan State, and currently serves as President of the International Student Organization (ISO), and is Co-Founder and Vice President of The Walkabout Group. In addition, he was recently re-elected to Student Senate for the 2012-2013 school year. 

For more information about the Jared P. Stene Student Leadership Scholarship click here.

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 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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