BY ALI KREMER
Financial aid season is setting in. It’s time to complete the FAFSA and figure out financial aid for next year. This season also indicates the start of an important time in the legislature at the Minnesota state capitol in St. Paul, and this legislative session is more important to our financial aid dollars than one might realize.
The Minnesota State Grant Program assists more than 84,000 students statewide with financial assistance to attend college. That is equivalent to more than 25 percent of the state’s college students. Last year, the average amount received by a student at a non-profit private institution was $3,300. It is essential that this program is preserved to keep Minnesota colleges accessible for everyone.
This legislative session, the state must balance a $1.2 billion deficit, putting almost any program at risk for cuts. On top of that, the State Grant Program is projecting a $42 million shortfall. Just taking into account the shortfall, the average award will drop 26 percent, and all awards will shrink from $1,800 to $400. This means incredible consequences for Saint Mary’s students, whether or not they actually receive state grant money. Less money coming into our school from the program means money that Saint Mary’s will have to make up. The Minnesota Private College Council (MPCC) is sponsoring its annual “Day at the Capitol”. On March 24, students from Saint Mary’s will join students from the other seventeen private institutions in Minnesota to meet with lawmakers and lobby for the State Grant Program. This opportunity is designed to give the lawmakers a face to a name and to inform them about the dire consequences that cuts to the program will have on Minnesota’s students. If nothing else, a free Perkins breakfast and money for lunch are provided on the trip. If you would like more information or would like to sign up for Day at the Capitol, please contact Ali Kremer (amkrem07) or Marie Allen (mealle07), or check out theMinnesota Private Colleges website: http://www.mnprivatecolleges.org /even/day.php.