Iron Range College Students Discuss Debt, Financial Aid

By KBJR News 1

March 7, 2013 Updated Mar 7, 2013 at 7:59 PM CDT

Virginia, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Iron Range college students sounded off on student debt and financial aid Thursday as they met with Larry Pogemiller, the Director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

Pogemiller visited Mesabi Community College to discuss Governor Dayton's budget recommendations for higher education.

"I was unable to get financial aid and it [tuition] came out of all my own pocket," said Matthew Brust, a student at Vermillion Community College.

Students from Vermillion, Itasca, Hibbing and Mesabi Community Colleges were present at the listening session.

"This last semester I took out the max I could for my student loans because the cost of living was too high," said Itasca Community College student, Jeff Roosdett.

High tuition and the financial aid needed to cover it were the main subjects of the listening session.

"What we're hearing is that the cost of education is becoming more difficult and that the amount of debt that students are taking on is becoming problematic," said Pogemiller, who has held other listening sessions with college students throughout the state.

The Governor is proposing a $240 million investment in higher education, the largest percentage increase for any area of the state budget. He's also proposing $80 million for the Minnesota State Grant program, which the office of higher education says will expand grant eligibility for more than 5,000 students.

"Hopefully it can work for all students, it doesn't matter what field you're getting into," said Mesabi Community College student, Gordonmai Smith.

A big concern lies with nontraditional part time students who often don't qualify for certain types of financial aid.

"It's a burden on them financially because they're trying to balance work and home life with their family and education to be successful," said Pogemiller.

Director Pogemiller says he plans to continue his listening session with Minnesota college students next week in Duluth.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.