Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Someone's in debt...

This article appear on the front page lead story in the December 18, 2006 edition of the Rochester Post-Bulletin:

Debt load burdens students

By Matthew Stolle

The Post-Bulletin

When Jared Stene graduates from Winona State University, looming over his future will be something of a black cloud: a staggering student debt of $48,000.

Although the Woodbury native is considering graduate or law school, he said the pressure to begin paying down that debt might short-circuit those plans and force him to find a job immediately.

Students across the state have begun to groan under the weight of their debt load, if a Web page set up by the WSU student leaders is any indication. The page allows students to log the amount of debt they expect to incur by the time they graduate. Numbers range from $4,000 to $120,000. The total amount of accumulated debt so far at WSU: $7.7 million.

"It's really simple: This state has reneged on its commitment" to affordable higher education, said DFL Sen.-elect Ann Lynch, a Rochester legislator who will serve on the Senate Higher Education Policy and Finance division.

The growing debt load of students will be a high-profile issue during the 2007 session, which begins Jan. 3. DFLers blame Gov. Tim Pawlenty for the 50 percent hike in student tuition over the last four years, arguing that his fixation on no-new-taxes came at the expense of students' financial hides.

Pawlenty also threw himself into the debate during the election campaign, proposing free tuition for students in their first two years for students who graduate in the top 25 percent of their high school graduating classes.

Students with the Minnesota State University Student Association are asking legislators for a tuition freeze in the next biennium. But the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is shooting for something a little less ambitious: Its budget request is seeking a system-wide 4 percent tuition cap.

"It would ultimately be less (of an increase) than what we've been going through," Stene said. "It (will) keep it lower, but ultimately, we would like a freeze."

So I made the front page in Rochester, also that "lovely" picture was with the article. That's my blue steel look...


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