Riverland CC students enjoying tuition freeze

Published 7:02 am Sunday, September 4, 2016

Students at Riverland Community College have seen their tuition drop this year.

Tuition was frozen at all two-year and four-year Minnesota State College and University campuses last year, and was lowered at two-year MnSCU campuses this year.

The average student at a MnSCU campus is saving more than $600 in tuition costs, said District 27 Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, noting students in the MnSCU system are saving $52 million in higher education tuition.

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Riverland Community College Dean of Students Gary Schindler said the Legislature’s action is a good move to make college more affordable for students, and allows them to use less in student loans.

Schindler said he secured a grant for Riverland that allots more than $1 million over five years for student support services.

Rising tuition is due to operating costs not meeting funding and tuition levels, Schindler said.

Bennett said college needs to be affordable for students, and added she is speaking with higher-education experts locally and statewide to stem the rising cost of tuition.

“It’s something that we need to get a handle of,” she said.

She said though the tuition decrease at two-year MnSCU campuses is nice, it does not solve the problem of rising tuition, an issue she deems complex.

“I think we need to take a deeper look and actually fix it,” Bennett said.

She also said she was pleased that MnSCU is starting a pilot program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The program includes a two-year certificate that helps people maintain their independence and maintain meaningful employment, Bennett said, noting the program is based on a Bethel University program that promotes post-secondary education.

“I just think it’s a really great program,” she said.

She also spoke highly of an initiative that addresses a shortage of trained high school agriculture instruction teachers.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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