UST to Meet With Legislators About Minnesota State Grant Program

Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to sign up for St. Thomas “Day at the Capitol” on Thursday, March 10, and meet with legislators to discuss the importance of the Minnesota State Grant Program.

The St. Thomas contingent will join students from St. Catherine University and Concordia College-Moorhead for Day at the Capitol events, which will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This year, the State Grant Program awarded $3.95 million in need-based financial aid to 1,340 St. Thomas undergraduate students who are Minnesota residents, for an average grant of $2,950. The state program is one of two government-backed grant programs; the federal Pell Grant program awarded $5.3 million to 1,383 St. Thomas students, an average of $3,823.

The Legislature this spring will set the state grant budget for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years. The state faces a $6 billion shortfall during that two-year period, and lawmakers are expected to approve a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

“Legislators need to near from students how important the grant program is in helping them pay for their college education,” said Doug Hennes, vice president for university and government relations at St. Thomas. “Our Day at the Capitol event provides the perfect opportunity for students, especially grant recipients, to meet with legislators and ask them to protect grant program funding for the next two years.”

The March 10 event will begin with a briefing conducted by the Minnesota Private College Council, which coordinates lobbying activities at the Capitol for 17 institutions, including St. Thomas. Participants then will meet with senators and representatives from their home districts. Food vouchers will be provided, and St. Thomas will run a bus between the St. Paul campus and the Capitol.

People can sign up for Day at the Capitol until Feb. 28 but are encouraged to do so as early as possible in order to give the MPCC staff members enough time to schedule meetings with legislators. Sign up on the Minnesota Private Colleges website.

Questions? Call Hennes, (651) 962-6402, or Quinn Abraham, legislative senator for the Undergraduate Student Government, (952) 454-3193.