ArticlePage address: http://www.mnsu.edu/mssa/news/html/student_debt_campaign.html
MSSA Begins Student Debt Campaign
by Benjamin Marti & Masataka Matsumoto
Logging on to Winona State University's Student Senate Web site can be a sobering endeavor.
The site contains a link for a campaign called "You Bet We're In Debt!" and lists a total debt amount from WSU students that adds up to $7,338,550. Even more sobering than the dollar amount is that all that debt comes from only 216 of the more than 7,000 undergraduate WSU students. The campaign by WSU, which is a member of Minnesota State Colleges & Universities along with Minnesota State, has been expanded this year by the Minnesota State University Student Association (MSUSA) to include the remaining six MnSCU members.
According to MSUSA Campus Organizer Holly Davis, her association has collected about 250 personal debt stories through survey responses from students on the seven MnSCU campuses this year. The stories are going to be used to build student debt profiles which will eventually be utilized by MSUSA to lobby at the Minnesota Legislature for lowered tuition, increased student debt awareness and an increase in state and federal financial aid.
At MSU, the Minnesota State Student Association (MSSA) has undertaken its part in the debt drive, aptly titling its program the "Student Debt Campaign" and focusing on obtaining more information concerning debt problems students are having at MSU.
MSSA is distributing the survey, which asks students everything from how much debt they have incurred to how many credit cards they possess. Jessica Kallio, the student senator for the College of Allied Health & Nursing, said the average debt students incur by the time they graduate is $17,611 based on the survey results she has seen so far.
The fact that many students are falling deeper into debt is related to a steady increase in tuition over the last six years. Statistics from the Minnesota State University Student Association (MSUSA) show that MSU's tuition has risen 67 percent since the 2001-2002 academic year, which is based on undergraduate tuition for 30 credits per year. Tuition costs at MSU currently amount to $5,104 per year, which is up $2,054 from the '01-'02 rate of $3,050. The average tuition increase over the last six years for colleges in the MnSCU system is $2,173 per year, which is a 70.8 percent jump.
Once MSUSA gathers the survey results they will be posted on the Student Debt Alert Web site www.studetndebtalert.org.
Benjamin Marti is the Reporter News Editor and Masataka Matsumo is a Reporter staff writer