Thursday, April 26, 2012

MnSCU Legislative Update -- Higher Ed Conference Committee Sent to House and Senate for Final Approval


The higher education omnibus conference committee came to an agreement last night on the higher education bill, SF 1573. Conferees accepted the House’s offer, a delete-all amendment that included the majority of the provisions in both bills with the exception of the House language that added an additional University of Minnesota student to the Student Advisory Council, and the House language regarding selling liquor at the University of Minnesota TCF Stadium. That language is traveling elsewhere.

Conferees accepted the continuing operations language that was in the Senate bill but not the House bill. This language will allow colleges and universities access to their cash in order to continue serving students if a government shutdown were to happen again. Also included in the final bill is the 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: dorms, student unions, dining facilities, and parking.

The final textbook language is a hybrid of the House and Senate bills and can be found in sections 3, 4, 5 and 14 on the attached. Textbook language includes the establishment of a work group to study methods that result in lower textbook costs for students. 

Also adopted was the Senate language (however both bills carried a similar provision) regarding the Permanent University Fund that provides for up to $25 million to be credited to an endowment for the costs of operating a mining, metallurgical, or related engineering degree program offered through the University of Minnesota at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College and for scholarships for students to attend the mining, metallurgical or related engineering program. The maximum scholarship cannot exceed $6,500 per academic year for a maximum of four academic years.

The language regarding the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA) student fee, a classroom-based, content-specific assessment that captures teacher candidates’ performance in planning and delivering instruction primarily taken during the student teaching phase of a student’s education, was amended so that the Minnesota Board of Teaching must now report to the K-12 and higher education legislative committees by January 5, 2013 with recommendations for eliminating lower priority tests or assessments required of teacher education students to offset the additional fees charged to students for the TPA. Currently the student is not bearing any cost for completing the TPA because the assessment is in its pilot phase.

The bill now heads back to both bodies for final approval. As a reminder, a conference committee report cannot be amended, it can only be voted up or down. If it is approved, it will head to Gov. Dayton for consideration. If it is not approved, it will head back to conference committee for further work.

Last Friday, the House Ways and Means Committee took up the bonding bill that originally included $280 million of statewide infrastructure projects, of which $56 million was slated for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. Committee Chair Larry Howes, R-Walker, introduced a delete-all amendment totaling $443.9 million, including $221 million for the State Capitol restoration.  On Thursday, the House failed to pass the stand-alone State Capitol restoration bill by one vote, so Ways and Means amended the bonding bill to include the Capitol repairs project, and scaled down other projects.

For higher education, the amended bill includes $30 million in repair and restoration (HEAPR) for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. The projects originally included in the House bonding bill for MnSCU were removed; $13.851 million for the Ridgewater College technical instruction lab; $4.606 million for the Minnesota West, Worthington renovation and addition; $1.5 million for the Saint Paul College health and science center design; $3.146 million for the Rochester Community and Technical College workforce center; $5.2 million for the system wide STEM renovation; $3.303 million for the Bemidji State University business building addition and renovation; $4.549 million for the Itasca Community College renovation and addition; and $300,000 for the Northland Community and Technical College aviation maintenance facility expansion.

Committee members approved the bill and sent it to the House floor. In the Senate, the $496 million bonding bill, which includes $127 million for MnSCU is awaiting action on the floor. We will continue to keep you posted when either body takes up their bill.

As a reminder the Senate bonding bill is a $496 million bonding bill, which includes $127.028 million for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Included in the bill is $32 million for higher education asset preservation and replacement (HEAPR). The college and university projects include:

$13.389 million for the Minneapolis Community and Technical College workforce program renovation;
$13.851 million for Ridgewater College, Willmar technical instruction lab renovation;
$4.606 million for Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington renovation and addition;
$13.315 million for South Central College, Faribault classroom renovation and addition;
$0.980 million for Anoka Ramsey Community College, Coon Rapids bioscience and allied health addition;
$26.292 million for North Hennepin Community College bioscience and health careers center addition;
$0.500 million for Southwest Minnesota State University science lab renovation;
$1.5 million for Saint Paul College health and science center design;
$5 million for Century College academic partners classroom design and construction;
$7.230 million for Dakota County Technical College transportation and emerging technical lab renovation;
$2 million for the system wide STEM renovation;
$2.065 million for Minnesota State University, Mankato clinical science building design;
$4 million for St. Cloud Technical and Community College medium heavy truck and auto body addition and renovation; and
$0.300 million for Northland Community and Technical College aviation maintenance facility expansion

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spring Delegates 2012 Recap


On April 13-15, the Spring Delegates met in Brainerd, Minnesota to handle the large task of updating the association's governing documents, setting the FY 2013 budget, electing the officers for the 2012-2013 year, and giving feedback regarding what an extraordinary education means to the average student.

Things kicked off on Friday with the culmination of Internal Affairs. Suggestions were made and approved to the Bylaws, Policies and Procedure, and Financial Policies during the meeting. After this business concluded, the Board of Directors met to elect next year's State Chair.  Moriah Miles from Minnesota State University, Mankato and Robert Trefetheren from Minnesota State University Moorhead both made their cases to the board for why they would be best suited to lead MSUSA next year. While both candidates were qualified for the position, the board ultimately decided to elect Moriah.


On Saturday morning, things kicked off with two rounds of work groups that included a budget overview, two sessions discussing what an extraordinary education looks like, platform feedback, and planning for next year's MSUSA outreach and engagement on campuses. Not only did these work groups better prepare the weekend's attendees for the Delegates Assembly, but they also provided valuable feedback to the MnSCU system.


After an exemplary lunch, that included a speech from Senator Carlson, the Delegates Assembly officially commenced. The early portions of the meeting were dedicated to approving the work of Internal Affairs, the suggested platform changes, and the FY 2013 budget. A great deal of productive discussion was had throughout enabling the Delegates to informatively approve of all of these items.

 
The delegates then moved into the two remaining items of business, the election of Vice Chair and Treasurer. First on the agenda was the Vice Chair election, where Thom Beneke from Minnesota State University Moorhead, Dea Price from Metropolitan State University, and Kyle Berndt from Southwest Minnesota State University made their case to the Delegates. After a great deal of deliberation and multiple rounds of balloting, the Delegates decided to give the job to Dea, though they were sure to note that all three individuals were quality candidates. The final major piece of business was the election of the Treasurer which was between Matt Lindquist from Minnesota State University Mankato and Sharon Yash from Winona State University. Sharon unfortunately could not be present for the election and the Delegates elected Matt Lindquist.

 
After Delegates, a brief award ceremony was held over dinner, MC'd by none other than Director of Campus Organizing, Matt Smriga. In addition, to recognition being given to the Campus Committees and Board Members, a few special awards were given out to recognize the extraordinary work done by specific campuses and individuals. Minnesota State University Moorhead won the most outstanding campus committee of the year for the excellent work on the many organizing campaigns assigned to them over the year. In addition, Joe "Captain Smooth" Longshore was given the Spirit of MSUSA award for his tireless advocacy on behalf of the organization.


On Sunday, the final day of the conference, all that remained was for the Board of Directors to meet and accept all of the recommendations from the Delegates Assembly, which they did without controversy. In addition, the board approved funding for a redesign of the MSUSA website that will help bolster the association's efforts at visibility and advocacy.

Overall it was a productive weekend that will enable MSUSA to continue its tireless advocacy on behalf of students in the coming year.  Thanks to everyone that made this year's Spring Delegates a resounding success!

Friday, April 20, 2012

MnSCU Legislative Update -- Higher Ed Bills Pass House and Senate

After a very brief floor discussion and two failed attempts at amending the bill, the Senate passed the higher education omnibus bill on Tuesday afternoon by a vote of 65-0. The first attempted amendment would have added language regarding the Minnesota FastTRAC adult career pathway program in order to increase the number of adults with postsecondary credentials in high-demand occupations that lead to livable wages. The amendment was ruled out of order because it appropriates $4.5 million for the program, which would bring the budget out of balance.

The second amendment, brought forward by Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, would have added an additional student member of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. Author of the bill Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, said the issue was discussed and voted on in committee and did not pass. Fischbach said committee members determined they needed more time to discuss the issue.

Also on the floor Tuesday, the Senate confirmed the Board of Trustees appointments: Duane Benson, Jacob Englund, Phil Krinkie, Alfredo Oliveira, Tom Renier, and Michael Vekich. The trustees were confirmed by the Senate Higher Education committee last session and have been awaiting a full floor vote.

The House took up the higher education omnibus bill Thursday and after the bill author Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, explained the House version, passed it by a vote of 129-1. There were no amendments. As a reminder, included in both the House and Senate bills is language on textbooks and provides for a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities textbook work group. Also both bills include language that would increase the revenue fund authority from $300 million to $405 million for schools to evaluate and plan for the future in the area of dorms, student unions, dining facilities, parking and other revenue generating facilities. The Senate bill includes the continuing operations language which would allow the colleges and universities access to their cash in the event of a government shutdown. Now that the House and Senate have both passed their version of the bill, it will head to conference committee to work through the differences. We will continue to keep you posted once a conference committee meeting is announced.

Gov. Mark Dayton and legislative leaders continue to meet in closed-door sessions to negotiate how to wrap up the 2012 session. According to Minnesota Public Radio, those discussions have been focused primarily on a tax bill and bonding bill. Dayton said he’s still hopeful he and the Legislature can find common ground and get a bonding bill passed, but unlike last session, he said there’s really nothing that has to be done.

Senate Majority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, said the bonding bill will come up on Friday in the Senate. Meanwhile the Vikings stadium bill, which was voted down in committee Monday evening, is still being discussed. Dayton is asking lawmakers to vote on the bill, even if it doesn’t pass. He said he’d like to see all legislators be able to vote on the bill, rather than just a 15-member committee.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

MSUSA Delegates Legislative Update

Minnesota State Government

The Minnesota State University Student Association (MSUSA) has been very active in the 2012 Minnesota Legislative Session. When planning for session there were a few key areas the organization wanted to focus: capital investment (bonding), photo-identification for voting, and protecting MnSCU from any further appropriation reductions. Throughout session a few other key initiatives have arisen and we have continued to advocate on behalf of our students on issues related to increasing textbook costs, internship opportunities and other items. Below I will outline each issue we’ve actively engaged on and update the status of the particular issue.

Higher Education Omnibus Bills – Many of MSUSA’s key pieces of legislation are included in these bills. The omnibus higher education bills are bills that both bodies (the House and Senate) create after hearing numerous policy bills in their committees. The bills that the committee chairman and chairwoman wanted to pass are then combined into one bill that the committee debates and votes to pass, amend or kill.

The following provisions are included in one or both of the Higher Ed Omnibus bills:

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

This provision was one of the key focuses of MSUSA during the 2012 session. Increasing textbook costs is a real problem facing students each semester. This work group will bring together all the stakeholders including the student organizations to discuss ways to lower textbook costs. The group will study alternative textbook delivery methods, a cross-campus shared delivery system for textbooks, the expansion of e-books and other technology based methods and a variety of other issues. The goal of this work group is to help assess current practices, present a stable of business strategies, technologies and campus deployment plans that are effective in driving down the cost of learning resources for students while offering greater access to no-or-low cost academic content for faculty. Rep. King Banaian and Sen. John Carlson were our key partners in getting this provision included in the omnibus bills.

For more details and to read the full report please click here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Delegate Assembly 2012-A Chance to Make a Difference


What does an extraordinary education mean?  How should MSUSA engage students?  Who will be the next MSUSA Officers?  What changes will delegates make to the legislative, diversity, academic and student services platforms for 2012-2013?  How should we spend student money for the upcoming year?  And, which campus committee will win the “Most Outstanding” award?

These are all questions that will be answered at MSUSA’s annual spring Delegate Assembly conference.  Students from each of the universities will come together to make critical decisions, decisions that will guide the organization for the future.

The conference, this year held at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, will start with an Internal Affairs meeting.  Students will review MSUSA’s Bylaws and Policies and Procedures.  At dinner that evening students will meet their candidates for State Chair, and the election will take place immediately thereafter.
Saturday includes multiple work groups, including describing an extraordinary education at a state university, gathering ideas about how MSUSA should outreach on campus, platform work and a budget overview.  In addition, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) Trustee Brett Anderson will lead a session about his position as trustee and will highlight important issues facing MnSCU.

Senator Carlson, R, Bemidji will be the featured speaker at the luncheon, and awards will be presented to students.  That afternoon the 41-member Delegate Assembly will conduct their business including making platform revisions, passing an MSUSA 2012-2013 budget, making internal affairs recommendations, and electing a Vice Chair and Treasurer.  A Board meeting will conclude the conference on Sunday.

This conference is one of the most important events of the year for MSUSA.  It is a chance for student leaders to learn more about MSUSA and have a voice in decisions that will impact the direction of the association.  Students lead MSUSA and the work done at Delegate Assembly makes the MSUSA a fantastic organization.

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.

Friday, April 6, 2012

MnSCU Legislative Update

Lawmakers headed home yesterday after floor sessions for the Easter and Passover holidays. They will be in their home districts next week, returning to St. Paul on Monday, April 16 at noon. There are still outstanding bills to be addressed when legislators return, including the bonding bill and the higher education omnibus bill. I have attached the bonding bill comparison of the system’s request, governor’s recommendation and the House and Senate bills as a reminder. Recall that the House is proposing $56 million for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system in a $280 million total bill, while the Senate is proposing $127 million for the system in a $496 million bill.


A proposed constitutional amendment that would require voters to present photo identification in order to vote, passed its final hurdle on Wednesday and will be put to the people on this year’s November ballot. The Senate passed the bill yesterday, following House passage late Tuesday night. Democrats, who oppose the bill, said the bill is about voter disqualification. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who opposes the bill, predicted the amendment would turn the state’s election system “upside down.” Republicans called the bill common sense and said it will help tighten Minnesota’s voting system, making sure voters are who they say they are.


Due to the legislative recess, you will not receive legislative updates next week. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns over the legislative break.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

MSUSA Alumni Update: April 2012





Annual Meeting and Picnic June 9th, 2012
The MSUSA Alumni Association Board of Directors would like to officially announce the Annual Meeting. It will take place on June 9, 2012 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm in conjunction with the annual picnic in Shakopee, Minnesota. This meeting is open to all Minnesota State University Student Association alumni and elections for a number of open positions on the Board will take place at the meeting. Those interested should also join us for a day of horse racing fun at Canterbury Park. Watch your e-mail for more details on the event including venue location and election information.

Alumni Happy Hour, Grumpy's in Roseville Tuesday, April 24 from 4:30-6:30 pm
Join us to connect with fellow alumni and enjoy complimentary appetizers on Tuesday, April 24 from 5:00-7:00 p.m.  Grumpy's is located at 2801 N Snelling Ave. in Roseville, MN.

Guest Alumni Post: James Foster
Alumni Association Board Member, and former Bemidji State University student, James Foster offers advice to students and recent graduates on what to do when things don't go quite as planned post graduation. Click here to check out his guest blog post.
Alumni Spotlight: Troy Olson
Click here to read the April alumni spotlight featuring Troy Olson. Troy is a Minnesota State University Moorhead graduate. He served both as a Delegate and as a Lobby Corps member while involved at MSUSA. Troy is currently serving his country overseas with the Army National Guard in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait and is a student at St. Thomas School of Law.
Legislative Update
Bonding
The House Ways and Means Committee took up the bonding bill and laid it over for further discussion and action. The bill includes $280 million in capital projects around the state, with $56 million for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU). Rep. Kathy Brynaert, DFL-Mankato, asked the author of the bill Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, how he determined the MnSCU projects that were included in the bill. Howes said he looked at the moderately priced projects so he could include as many projects on the MnSCU list as he could given the amount of the total bill.
Committee members also took up HF 2754, the State Capitol restoration bill for $221 million. Author of the bill, Rep. Howes, said the funding will be split up over four years, with $60 million for fiscal years 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Rep. Lyndon Carlson, DFL-Crystal, asked Howes if the full amount of $221 million can be staged over the four-year period to free up room for other projects. Carlson said, while restoration of the State Capitol is important, paying the full amount up front crowds out other needs, whether it’s higher education or other projects. Committee members passed the bill and sent it to the floor.
The Senate Capital Investment Committee met on Thursday and took up the $496 million bonding bill, which includes $127.028 million for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Included in the bill is $32 million for higher education asset preservation and replacement (HEAPR). The college and university projects include:
  • $13.389 million for the Minneapolis Community and Technical College workforce program renovation;
  • $13.851 million for Ridgewater College, Willmar technical instruction lab renovation;
  • $4.606 million for Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington renovation and addition;
  • $13.315 million for South Central College, Faribault classroom renovation and addition;
  • $0.980 million for Anoka Ramsey Community College, Coon Rapids bioscience and allied health addition;
  • $26.292 million for North Hennepin Community College bioscience and health careers center addition;
  • $0.500 million for Southwest Minnesota State University science lab renovation;
  • $1.5 million for Saint Paul College health and science center design;
  • $5 million for Century College academic partners classroom design and construction;
  • $7.230 million for Dakota County Technical College transportation and emerging technical lab renovation;
  • $2 million for the system wide STEM renovation;
  • $2.065 million for Minnesota State University, Mankato clinical science building design;
  • $4 million for St. Cloud Technical and Community College medium heavy truck and auto body addition and renovation; and
  • $0.300 million for Northland Community and Technical College aviation maintenance facility expansion
Voter Identification
The Senate passed the voter identification bill off the floor on Friday by a vote of 36-30. The bill is different than the House version passed earlier in the week, so the House could either accept the Senate language or go to conference committee to work through the differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill. If a compromise is reached between the two bills and the full bodies pass them again, the question would be put to voters in the November election.
Author of the bill, Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said he believes some people are voting illegally and that the proposed constitutional amendment would stop that; however, opponents of the bill, said those fears have been blown out of proportion and that voter fraud is almost nonexistent. Opponents said there will be a negative impact; with thousands of people having trouble voting.
Textbook Workgroup
Due in part to the MSUSA's work, legislation that would create a system workgroup to address the rising costs of textbooks through a combination of strategies is included in both the House and Senate higher education omnibus bills and has a great deal of support.
Special thanks to our Director of Government Relations, Jonathan Bohn for providing this update. For legislative updates every Friday afternoon, check out our blog.

Alumni Association Bylaw Change: Election Guidelines
The Alumni Association Board of Directors would like to change Article IV, Section C of the Bylaws to allow board members who are appointed to fill a vacancy to serve out the remainder of their term. As it stands now, those appointed are only allowed to serve until the next Annual Meeting. As per our governing documents, any general alumni association members who have concerns or questions about this change should contact alumni association board chair, Josh Martin at jcmartin7872@gmail.com by no later than Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012. To view a copy of the bylaws click here.

Alumni Sponsored Internships
Are you a successful alumnus looking to help current state university students? The Minnesota State University Student Association Alumni Association has created a new section on the MSUSA website for internships provided by MSUSA alumni. Please contact MSUSA Director of Communications, Jered Weber at jweber@msusa.org if you have any internships you would like to see posted to the website.

Spring Delegates April 13-15 at Cragun's Resort in Brainerd, MN
The MSUSA Delegate's Assembly and Board of Directors will be meeting at the Cragun's Resort in Brainerd, Minnesota. Businesses that will be covered at the conference include 2012-2013 Officer Elections, Platform review, Internal Affairs, and much more. For more information on the weekend click here. Bemidji State University alumni Board Member, Michael Meehlhause will also be stopping by to help students plan for an exciting 2012-2013 academic year of student engagement and outreach.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Alumni Perspective: The Extended Job Hunt

Making it through a job search that isn’t going your way.

Completing a degree is a huge accomplishment. After years of work, you finally receive the recognition you deserve for the hours you put in studying, attending classes and building networks around campus.

However, graduation can be a scary time, if the job market isn’t looking upon you favorably. We all know the realities of living in a tough economy, and jumping into a job search during rough times is often downright discouraging.

While I do not have the answer to finding a high-paying job in this type of market, here are a few tips to make the transition between school and a career easier (and hopefully quicker).

Build networks. This can be anything from finding a professional association in your field to joining a local organization of people with similar interests. I have gotten some of my favorite jobs because I was recommended by someone that I developed a connection with. This could be as simple as taking a community education course, joining a gardening club or becoming part of a church group. You never know who else is a part of these groups, and whether or not they know who could move your résumé to the top of the pile.

Get a job. Financial expert Dave Ramsey always says, work is a great place to go when you need money. You will need a source of income while you search for your dream job. It never hurts to pick up a job in the evenings delivering pizzas, working at a store or waiting tables. While it may not be the most glamorous (or well-paying) option, you will at least have some money coming in once the bills start arriving in the mailbox. Once again, you never know who you might meet that could open up a new doorway to your career, or if you would be eligible for a different position if your company likes to hire from within.

Be responsible with your money. Unless you work in a store or restaurant, stay out of stores and restaurants!!! Although you would like to start your career right away, it could take weeks, months, or even years. Using wise financial practices will ensure that your money lasts until the big paychecks start rolling in.

(Carefully) Consider graduate school. Grad school is a great option, but it is not for everyone! Many graduate programs offer paid assistantships and tuition assistance, which is a great way to spend a couple years if the job market is sluggish. However, if you are fed up with school, starting more schooling right away may not be a good idea! You have to make this judgment call; it’s a great option, but don’t rush into it.

Don’t give up hope! It’s easy to get discouraged. Rejection letters and phone calls that go unreturned get old very quickly. But it is important not to give up! With the right amount of persistence, the right opportunity will come along at the right time. And just remember, everything happens for a reason!

James Foster graduated from Bemidji State University in 2010 and currently sits on the MSUSA Alumni Association Board. You can contact him at fosterjamesa@gmail.com. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Stafford Loan Interest Rate Set to Double on July 1, 2012

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, it estimates that 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 that 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 a reduced interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans be maintained and that it is not at the detriment to the Pell Grant.

To take action today please call or email Rep. John Kline’s office and ask them to keep student interest rates at the current level.

Contact Congressman John Kline
To contact Congressman John Kline, please click here.

Congressman Kline's Minnesota Office
101 West Burnsville Parkway, Suite 201
Burnsville, MN 55337
Phone: (952) 808-1213
Toll-Free: (888) 808-6644
E-mail: Click here
Fax: (952) 808-1261

Congressman Kline's Washington Office

2439 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2271
E-mail: Click here
Fax: (202) 225-2595