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As tuition increases, Bruininks pushes $10 million in new aid

University President Bob Bruininks is pushing ahead with a plan to provide approximately $10 million in new scholarships.

Staff, students and legislators praised the plan, which is an attempt to cushion the impact of double-digit tuition increases at the University.

Undergraduate tuition will increase by 14.7 percent this year and 13 percent next year. Graduate and professional students’ tuition will increase by 12 percent this year.

Kris Wright, interim director for the Office of Student Finance, said some of the University scholarships will match money students receive from other grants and scholarships.

The University already provides grants to students who fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. The new scholarship funds will be distributed the same way.

A private fund-raising campaign will support the scholarships, Bruininks said. The University will also reallocate tuition and other internal funds for the effort.

Rep. Doug Stang, R-Cold Spring, chairman of the Higher Education Finance Committee, said he supports the program because it would help middle- and low-income families afford higher education.

“With rising tuition, it’s important to cushion it as much as possible,” Stang said.

Students also praised the initiative. Going to school and teaching undergraduate courses leaves little time for mechanical engineering graduate student Jon Robelia to hold another job to pay for school, he said.

“We do a heck of a lot of work around here,” he said. “Any help graduate students can get is good.”

Because graduate students are not eligible for state grants, raising tuition causes greater strain for them than undergraduates, Graduate and Professional Student Assembly President Todd Powell said.

Other student goals

The scholarship program is part of Bruininks’ several larger goals.

These goals include improving students’ on-campus experiences, improving graduation rates and investing in high-interest areas of study.

Since more students now live on or near campus than ever, developing campus life by creating more recreational sports and leadership opportunities is important, Bruininks said.

The University will expand and improve advising and career services as a way to increase graduation rates, Bruininks said. He also wants to expand learning communities and honors programs and make better use of technology in the classroom.

Kari Petrie covers the Board of Regents and administration. She welcomes comments at [email protected]

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