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Rochester U of M students face tuition hike next year

BY REP. PAUL THISSEN JULY 3, 2015 ROCHESTER POST-BULLETIN Read the original article here.

With a $2 billion surplus, we had a great opportunity this year to make college more affordable for Minnesota students — and for good reason. Many families and students struggle with the cost of a quality higher education and Minnesota ranks fourth in the nation in student debt.

Unfortunately, students at the University of Minnesota-Rochester recently learned that they will receive a tuition hike next year. Raising tuition is essentially a tax increase because you're taking money out of the pockets of students, many who simply can't afford it. Now, thanks to these misplaced priorities, the cost of tuition and room and board at Rochester will be nearly $22,000.

Why, with a $2 billion surplus is tuition going up? The answer is simple — House Republicans would rather put those dollars toward corporate and business tax breaks. In fact, they insisted on keeping nearly $1 billion of our surplus on our state's bottom line for a potential tax giveaway in 2016 when an extra $85 million would have frozen tuition for every Minnesota student for the next two years.

Making college affordable should be a higher priority for our Legislature, as it was over the past two years. In 2013, Gov. Mark Dayton and our DFL-led Legislature froze tuition for all Minnesota students for two years, despite a $627 million deficit. With a $2 billion surplus, it's simply unacceptable that Republicans chose to raise tuition on students.

Minnesotans shouldn't have to take on decades of debt to get a college degree that will help them succeed. It's the wrong way to grow a stronger economic future in Minnesota and we can do much better. I encourage Rochester-area residents to contact area state representatives Duane Quam and Niels Person and ask them to support reductions in tuition and student debt next session.

We believe those are higher priorities than corporate tax breaks that will largely benefit the metro-area businesses.