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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/mssa/news/html/student_senator_lobbies.html

Student Senator Lobbies for Lower Textbook Prices in D.C.

Increasing the maximum award for the Pell Grant was also an objective of MSSA's Casey Carmody.

by Matt Johnston

Issue date: 9/28/06 Section: Campus News

The cost of living is on the rise. The costs of textbooks and tuition are also increasing at a steady rate. Unfortunately, Pell Grants are not. Casey Carmody knows these truths too well.

Carmody is a double major in political science and public relations at Minnesota State, with a minor in speech. He is an elected senator of the Minnesota State Student Association (MSSA). Carmody was picked from a list of students to go to Washington D.C. to lobby for lower textbook prices and an increase in the maximum award for the Pell Grant.

The Minnesota State University Student Association (MSUSA) is a non-profit organization run and funded by students. Members are sent to the capitol throughout the year to help lobby for students' rights.

Travis Reese is the state chairman of the MSUSA from Winona State University, who helped to oversee the trip.

"The Minnesota State University Student Association is always dedicated to advocating for more funding of Federal Financial Aid, and the Pell Grant has been a very successful example program," Reese said. "Raising the maximum award for the Pell Grant will continue to be a top priority for MSUSA as it helps students with the lowest incomes in higher education. As an association we plan trips to lobby our federal legislators as often as we can."

Reese went on to say, "During this past trip we also took part in a hearing held by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance. In that hearing I was the only student who gave testimony about a Textbook Taskforce that the committee is commissioning [and] in particular what the students' role should be. The problems students face are well-known among many in the higher education community, but there is little consensus about what to do."

While there, Carmody met with Rep. Gil Gutknecht and Sen.. Mark Dayton. Sen. Norm Coleman and Rep. Mark Kennedy were unavailable so Carmody met with their aids. Each official he met with agreed with the MSUSA and believed that it is a worthy cause.

"Although I felt that this trip was particularly helpful, this is an election year, and they seem to want to keep this [issue] off the plate until the lame duck congress ends after the elections," Carmody said.

The Advisory Committee for Student Financial Assistance is conducting a year- long study for the prices of textbooks. The MSUSA would like to see that Congress and the Legislature follow this study and implement the recommendations of the findings, he said.

"Tuition is a painful price but we get financial aid for that, but textbooks often get paid for with credit cards and they have high interest," Carmody said. "The Pell Grant is really in need of help, it hasn't been increased in five years, including this one. We would like to see it bumped up to $10,000 to equal the prices in the '70s." That would be a $5,000 increase per student per year