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University of Minnesota Duluth students, staff to lobby legislators for more support

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Students worried about years of tuition increases at the University of Minnesota Duluth will take that concern and others to the Capitol on Thursday to lobby lawmakers.

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"We're sick of seeing these high tuition rates and these loan rates that continuously go up, and we want to do something about it," said senior Kimberly Newton, president of the Student Association, which is sending a group to St. Paul.

Students attending Bulldog Lobby Day will also talk to legislators about UMD's proposed chemical sciences and advanced materials building, and money to update Cina and Heller halls.

UMD must eliminate $9.4 million from its budget, and has so far proposed $2.5 million in cuts and nearly $700,000 in increased revenue. A

reduction in the amount of state money from the University of Minnesota, a fringe benefit shortfall and declining enrollment beginning in 2011 are to blame for the deficit.

When enrollment increased at UMD in recent years, the U of M

decreased the school's portion of state funding and raised tuition. Then enrollment declined, compounding the problem. In 2013, 77 percent of UMD's revenue came from tuition.

One Student Association member said there's a "disconnect" between some legislators and the cost of higher education.

Ben Dufault, the association's vice president of external affairs, has sat in on meetings with lawmakers and heard some talk about how they worked summers in college to pay their way through four years of school; some from a time when the state paid more for higher education, he said. The amount of money the state has given to the U of M system shrank from $709 million in 2008 to $570 million in 2012.

"We're just trying to bring to their attention that we're not just college students asking for more money; we need more money," said Dufault, a senior. "There is a whole generation that is going to have $10,000 to $20,000 in debt that will keep them from ... giving back to the economy the way other generations before us have."

Newton said it's important for students to go to the Capital to show lawmakers that students care and are aware of rising costs. She has hope that money for the building updates and new construction will come through this session, despite Gov. Mark Dayton's omission of both from his projects budget.

A new science building would help enrollment because of its science, technology, engineering and mathematics focus, Newton said. Those are growing areas of study.

Faculty and staff will be joining students in this week's effort, a departure from past years.

"We want to show them it's a united front," Dufault said. "That we're really dedicated to making sure we get through this little bump in the road and will continue to provide this incredible education that people have been coming to UMD for decades expect."

Students worried about years of tuition increases at the University of Minnesota Duluth will take that concern and others to the Capitol on Thursday to lobby lawmakers.

"We're sick of seeing these high tuition rates and these loan rates that continuously go up, and we want to do something about it," said senior Kimberly Newton, president of the Student Association, which is sending a group to St. Paul.

Students attending Bulldog Lobby Day will also talk to legislators about UMD's proposed chemical sciences and advanced materials building, and money to update Cina and Heller halls.

UMD must eliminate $9.4 million from its budget, and has so far proposed $2.5 million in cuts and nearly $700,000 in increased revenue. A

reduction in the amount of state money from the University of Minnesota, a fringe benefit shortfall and declining enrollment beginning in 2011 are to blame for the deficit.

When enrollment increased at UMD in recent years, the U of M

decreased the school's portion of state funding and raised tuition. Then enrollment declined, compounding the problem. In 2013, 77 percent of UMD's revenue came from tuition.

One Student Association member said there's a "disconnect" between some legislators and the cost of higher education.

Ben Dufault, the association's vice president of external affairs, has sat in on meetings with lawmakers and heard some talk about how they worked summers in college to pay their way through four years of school; some from a time when the state paid more for higher education, he said. The amount of money the state has given to the U of M system shrank from $709 million in 2008 to $570 million in 2012.

"We're just trying to bring to their attention that we're not just college students asking for more money; we need more money," said Dufault, a senior. "There is a whole generation that is going to have $10,000 to $20,000 in debt that will keep them from ... giving back to the economy the way other generations before us have."

Newton said it's important for students to go to the Capital to show lawmakers that students care and are aware of rising costs. She has hope that money for the building updates and new construction will come through this session, despite Gov. Mark Dayton's omission of both from his projects budget.

A new science building would help enrollment because of its science, technology, engineering and mathematics focus, Newton said. Those are growing areas of study.

Faculty and staff will be joining students in this week's effort, a departure from past years.

"We want to show them it's a united front," Dufault said. "That we're really dedicated to making sure we get through this little bump in the road and will continue to provide this incredible education that people have been coming to UMD for decades expect."

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