MINNEAPOLIS - As you watched students enjoy the beautiful day at the University of Minnesota on Thursday, you may not have gotten the sense that they are overly concerned about paying for school.
Some students were lying in the grass while others were playing touch football, but the added pressure of scoring an education without a lot of debt is no game to them.
"It's very expensive," said transfer student Eden Gebretsadik.
According to the U of M, undergraduate students pay more than $13,000 each year in tuition and fees.
Under a new proposal, the U of M would freeze tuition for all undergraduate students from Minnesota starting in 2014. In exchange, the university wants an increase of about $14 million in state funding in each of the next two years.
"If they stay here four years, that saves that student $2,565 over their four years at the university," said U of M Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter.
Pfutzenreuter says the request for more money would increase state funding to its 2001 level at the university without adjusting for inflation.
The proposal also ties the increased funding to performance, for example improving graduation rates.
But U of M is not the only institution trying to freeze or cut tuition for students. Concordia College in St. Paul announced it will slash tuition for students and the Iowa Board of Regents backed a plan to freeze in-state tuition for the coming year.
"I think there is a general recognition in the country now," said Pfutzenreuter. "We have to address the cost of college for middle-income students."
"It's about time if that's the case," said U of M Sophomore John Graves.
Graves was not the only student to feel that way.
"A lot of people in my family are still paying off their loans and it's 5 or 6 years out of college," said U of M Sophomore Nick Urick.
The plan still has a lot of hurdles to get through. President Eric Kaler will present the proposal to the Board of Regents Friday morning. The regents will vote on it in October. It will then go to the legislature for approval.
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