Leg. mulls child-care assistance

The Professional Student Gov’t is working to expand child-care grants to graduate students.

by Raj Chaduvula

For student-parents like second-year law student Edward Fleming, child care costs add enormous expenses to already tight budgets. 
The University’s Professional Student Government is working to ease the financial strain many graduate student-parents face by asking state legislators to expand an existing Minnesota Office of Higher Education child care grant to include graduate students. 
Last week, the Minnesota Senate’s higher education committee held a hearing regarding the proposed changes.
Currently, the OHE grant — which gives out an average of about $2,000 a year per student — only covers undergraduate students’ child care expenses. 
At the hearing, Fleming testified that he and his fiancee are in a better position than many of their peers because of his fiancee’s steady job. Nevertheless, child care is a significant expense for them. 
Fleming and his fiancee have two children — a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old. Their annual child care expenses average about $18,000, he said. 
“At the end of the day, we just barely get by. … Every bit would be helpful,” Fleming said. 
Expanding the existing grant program would help students continue their education without compromising their children’s well-being, Fleming said. 
Murid Amini, an expecting father and second-year Master of Business Administration student at Carlson School of Management, testified that the additional support would make going to school easier and would help students enter the workforce more quickly. 
Since graduate students take fewer classes than undergraduates, the grant would provide enough support to cover child care costs during graduate students’ class time. 
Amini said he expects his annual child care expenses to be $15,000 to $20,000. 
PSG President Kyle Kroll said another hearing on the bill in the House of Representatives is set for March 30. He said the group is hopeful the proposed change will go into effect by the start of next school year.
“We on this committee believe in doing all we can to reduce that burden,” said Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, at the hearing.