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Editorial: Ask your local lawmakers to support the U of M

During these challenging times, Minnesotans worry about how they can finance the basics, let alone the cost of college. Rising tuition threatens to place higher education beyond the reach of more students every year, so we at the University of Minnesota, Morris are reaffirming our commitment to keeping tuition affordable and education accessible to qualified students of all economic backgrounds.

We continue to work closely with University President Eric Kaler and our colleagues to control costs, make the U more efficient, and invest in opportunities that benefit students. Our efforts have not been in vain, as 94 percent of Morris alumni agree their degrees were a smart investment. Tuition at Morris is one-fourth the cost of the most expensive private school in Minnesota--in spite of inflation, rising utilities costs, and a 35 percent drop in state appropriations to the U during the last decade.

President Kaler and the Board of Regents aim to freeze tuition for resident undergraduate students for two years, and I support their efforts. For an average University of Minnesota, Morris undergraduate, the total tuition burden would be reduced by about $2,500. Similar savings would extend to the 312 students from the Morris area enrolled on other U campuses.

As we've seen at the University of Minnesota, Morris, state investment in higher education and the cost of tuition share an inverse relationship. That's why we invite legislators to join us in a partnership that benefits students and their families. In return, the U commits not only to cutting $28 million in costs, but also to meeting accountability measures while offering significant return on investment for industry and the state's economy.

Our students, their families, and our communities benefit from University of Minnesota research, which advances the state's most promising industries. In West Central Minnesota alone, the University's economic impact has created and sustained 955 jobs and infused $65.5 million into the region's economy. The best way to build Minnesota's economy while ensuring that higher education remains a wise investment for current and future students is to return state funding of higher education to previous levels.

Please contact your local lawmakers and ask them to support the University of Minnesota and keep tuition affordable. Remind them of the U's positive impact on our vibrant region, and sign up at so we can update you during the legislative session.

Jacqueline Johnson is chancellor of the University of Minnesota, Morris.