A taste of government

Students visit State Capitol

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March 22, 2013

By Mike Killeen

A total of 34 CSB and SJU students visited the Minnesota State Capitol to talk to lawmakers about funding for higher education.


Lobbyists aren't the only people bending lawmakers' ears at the Minnesota State Capitol these days.

Students from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University attended the 2013 Day at the Capitol event Wednesday, March 20, in St. Paul to encourage lawmakers to increase the state's investment in the Minnesota State Grant program.

Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed $80 million in new investment in the need-based State Grant program - a 25 percent increase over current funding. Currently, the program funds more than 90,000 students each year. One in four Minnesota college students who attend private and public institutions receive State Grants.

The students - 17 from CSB and 17 from SJU - met with their hometown lawmakers to educate them about the importance of the State Grant program and encouraged them to support the governor's budget request.

If Dayton's request is approved, it is estimated that 5,000 additional college students would be able to receive State Grants awards for the first time. A significant share of the new funding would help families earning more than $50,000.

"Gov. Dayton has proposed a historic increase in the state's investment in our college students - and Minnesota's economic future," said CSB President MaryAnn Baenninger, who also serves as the Minnesota Private College Council's board chair. "To put it simply, helping college students helps us all."  

The Minnesota Private College Council provides training and materials to the students and makes legislative appointments for participants.

While at the Capitol, the students also observed a session of the House of Representatives and participated in a gathering of CSB and SJU alumnae/i who work at the Capitol in a variety of roles, including politicians and lobbyists. Following the gathering, students were able to network with the CSB and SJU alumnae/i.

This was the third of four such days for Minnesota private colleges. Joining CSB and SJU for this day was Saint Mary's University and Concordia University, St. Paul.