MnSCU to seek $107.6 million two-year increase from state

Posted: October 16, 2002

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Recognizing that the state faces a financial crunch, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees today approved a request for $107.6 million more in state money for the system over the next two years.

The amount requested is less than half of the $255.6 million increase sought in the 2001 legislative session. That year, the Legislature appropriated a $100 million increase to the system, but cut back $22.7 million last year when state revenue shrank.

The request assumes a 3 percent average tuition increase for each of the next two years, substantially less than the double-digit increases of the past two years.

"Our proposed budget is very conservative, because we recognize that the state budget shortfall will mean lean budgets for all state-supported institutions," Chancellor James McCormick said.

"Meanwhile, we continue finding ways to be efficient. Our colleges and universities must be able to remain on course with their high-quality programs at a price students can afford."

Board of Trustees Chair Mary Choate said the system's 34 state colleges and universities could use far more than the requested increase to carry out needed upgrades in campus technology, equipment and instructional support.

"While we are committed to maintaining a top-quality educational environment, the board agrees that some of those improvements should be postponed until the economy improves," Choate said. "If we receive the amount we have requested, we will be able to hold down tuition increases and shield our students from additional financial strain. Far too many students have told us about their struggles to pay for college."

The colleges and universities have calculated that they would need an increase of more than $300 million to fully meet their needs over the next two years, Choate said.

The $107.6 million requested increase includes $67.3 million to cover inflation, $12 million for repair and replacement projects and $28.3 million for high-priority programs, including nursing and teacher preparation.

McCormick said that during rough economic times, education and technical training play an even more important role in workforce development, and enrollment goes up at the state colleges and universities.

"We want to work in partnership with business, government and non-profit agencies to fill the gaps in the workforce, such as in nursing and other health care fields," McCormick said. "But we will need extra financial support to be equipped and prepared to expand those programs."