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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Melissa Hortman (DFL)

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MELISSA HORTMAN: HIGHER ED BILL INVESTS IN OUR FUTURE

Thursday, March 29, 2007
Assistant Majority Leader Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) secured over $60 million in tuition relief for students at Minnesota's public colleges and universities this week when a bill she authored was included in the higher education omnibus bill. House Democrats unveiled the bill, which reverses years of budget cuts, after months of committee hearings on rapidly increasing tuition rates. "The secret to Minnesota's success has always been our strong commitment to education," Hortman said. "Businesses choose to locate in the Twin Cities because we have a highly educated workforce. In recent years, however, our public colleges and universities have been forced to raise tuition because of state budget cuts. These higher tuition rates have caused student debt to skyrocket. This bill stems the tide of huge tuition increases." Due to large increases over the past few years, tuition at Minnesota's public colleges and universities is now among the highest in the nation. Students have increasingly turned to loans to finance their education. Hortman worries that students leaving school with large debts are at a disadvantage. "These students leave college with a debts that are equivalent to a mortgage," she said. "How can we expect them to buy a house and begin a life with that much debt? I am very proud that the House higher education bill provides help for students." Other highlights of the bill include: · $100 million in tuition relief, increased state grants and student aid. · Pilot projects to explore the potential for textbook rental and other cost-saving options. · $14 million in tuition assistance for Minnesota veterans. · Investments in health workforce training programs to address shortage of workers. -30-