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Promises to Stabilize Tution, Limit Increase to One Percent
--- At University of Minnesota, Crookston

From the Grand Forks Herald

By David Dodds, Herald Staff Writer

CROOKSTON —

In his first visit to University of Minnesota-Crookston in 16 months, Bruininks thanked the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce for its strong support of the bill that uses higher gas taxes and motorist fees to fund $6.6 billion over 10 years to fix high-priority bridges and provide basic transportation needs throughout the state.

Legislators overrode Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto last month to pass the transportation bill.

The UM system, with its five campus — Twin Cities, Crookston, Duluth, Rochester and Morris — aren’t in the clear, though.

Bruininks is tussling with Pawlenty and his proposal to cut about $27 million from the system’s budget. The Minnesota State Colleges and University system would sustain similar cuts under the governor’s plan.

Pawlenty has said the amount is small considering what the UM system spends in a year, but Bruininks contends it would affect all aspects of the system, from its ability to conduct research to scholarship funding.

In Crookston, Bruininks reiterated his promise to increase student tuition “only as a last resort? when trying to offset cuts in state funding.

Bruininks said UM students, including those in Crookston, have seen back-to-back years with tuition of hikes totaling about 14 percent.

Stabilize tuition

The president used the UMC campus to indicate his concern for the enrollment impact continued steep tuition increases might have.

He pointed to successes that UMC has experienced recently, including this past spring’s 1,072 full-time degree-seeking students, a 13 percent increase over the previous year.

“We’re starting to make forward progress here,? Bruininks said, “and I don’t want anything to get in the way of that.?

If it does reach a point where tuition must be raised, Bruininks said he’d fight to limit it to 1 percent to 1½ percent — considerably less than the most recent hikes.

“We want to get it a back to more stable,? he said.

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