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Letter: State Legislature was friendly to college students

Bemidji State University students will remember the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions for their dramatic shifts away from harmful cuts and movement toward the long-awaited investments that began to address the unsustainable epidemic of student debt. These new investments — a vital first step fought for by Gov. Mark Dayton, Rep. John Persell and Sen. Tom Saxhaug — will have positive impacts on thousands of students across Minnesota.

State leaders provided more than $120 million to improve aging campus infrastructure and increase student success and opportunity. Bemidji State will receive $13.7 million for a project which includes renovation, remodeling and demolition of three buildings, plus design work for future demolition of Hagg Sauer Hall. The underutilized gymnasium in Memorial Hall will be renovated into instructional space covering three stories. Bemidji State’s large business administration and accounting programs will find a new home in an updates and technologically advanced building. This funding will also create construction jobs.

In addition, the Legislature passed record levels of funding for the Minnesota State Grant Program. This program provides grants to middle- and low-income Minnesotans, providing traditionally underserved communities with access to post-secondary education. Changes were made to the State Grant Program benefiting all eligible students, including many part-time students.

The Legislature also tackled out-of-control textbook costs, eased transfer issues within MnSCU, authorized online voter registration, expanded internship opportunities, and passed the Minnesota DREAM Act. All of these successes leave no doubt higher education was a major priority of our local legislators the last two years.

We extend a sincere thank you for the support during the last biennium. We must continue to work together toward a long-term solution. Your sustained support will help ensure Minnesota expands opportunities for current and future students.

Jenna Long

Bemidji State University Student Body Co-President