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Students Hope Sore Feet Will Bring More Funding

Group to log 142 miles over three days.

Dan Nienaber, Mankato Free Press, 5-11-2015

Mankato, Minn. -- Dennis Durst knows first-hand how the cost of attending a state university in Minnesota has increased to the point that obtaining that degree can easily match the price of a fancy new sports car or a decent sized piece of lakefront property.

When Durst started attending college in the 1980s, it cost about $700 per quarter or about $2,100 per year, he said. He joined the military, made it a career and now he’s retired and back at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Tuition alone is now $7,000 per year.

If he didn’t have military money to subsidize his college costs, Durst would be learning a skill at a trade school instead of pursuing a degree. He blames snowballing administrative costs for the spike in fees and other college costs.

Even though his college costs, for the most part, are covered, Durst said he still thought it would be worth his time, and maybe a few blisters on his feet, to help keep college affordable for others. He is one of three Minnesota State Mankato students planning to walk 142 kilometers to show support for a $142 million state appropriation that will be used to freeze tuition costs at Minnesota’s state universities for the next two years.

The crew left Centennial Student Union on the Minnesota State Mankato campus at about 8:30 a.m. Sunday. They were planning to spend the night at a supporter’s house in Waterville before walking to Northfield Monday. By the time they reach a hotel in Eagan Tuesday night, they will have walked about 90 miles, or 30 miles per day.

A larger group of marchers is expected to join the group for the final 12 mile trek from Eagan to the State Capitol, where they will be welcomed by Rep. Clark Johnson at about 2 p.m. Wednesday. He’s told the group a few of them can join him on the House floor to be recognized for their effort.

”I guess we’re walking for the symbolism, just to show the legislature how serious we are,” said Joe Wolf, an organizer for the 142 kilometer walk for $142 million. “Hopefully this message can get out to others in the community so they ask their local legislators to support us.”

This isn’t the first time Minnesota State Mankato students have walked from Mankato to St. Paul to show support for state funding to freeze tuition costs. This will be the fourth time they’ve made the trip since 2010 and their efforts have paid off in the past, Wolf said.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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