Student debt in Minnesota among highest in nation

REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn
Minnesota graduates shoulder the third-highest amount of student debt in the U.S.

Minnesota graduates shoulder the third-highest amount of student debt in the U.S. — about $29,800, compared with the national average of $26,600. Only New Hampshire and Pennsylvania grads had more debt, reports Amanda Dyslin of the Mankato Free Press localized a study by the Institute for College Access and Success in California. Among state public schools, MSU-Mankato’s student-debt load of $29,415 was greater than St. Cloud State University, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Southwest Minnesota State University. Sandra Loerts, MSU director of financial aid, tried to suss out why: Maybe MSU students take advantage of fewer scholarships; maybe they qualify for more federal loans because their families are less affluent; maybe they take longer to complete their course work; maybe they take out more private loans to help cover living expenses than students at other institutions.

Full-time Minnesota residents pay $7,532 in tuition and fees at MSU this year, and the average cost of room and meals is $7,368, for a total of $14,900. That compares with five years ago, when the total cost was $11,414, or 31 percent lower. MSU Vice President of Finance Richard Straka said the reason for the increase in tuition is reductions from the state Legislature and not from higher expenditures. Straka said the traditional funding goal for Minnesota higher education was 67 percent from the state. “That’s more than flipped now,” he said. “The state is only picking up about 1⁄3. … Tuition has certainly gone up, but the vast majority has gone to replace those state appropriations.”

The Mayo Clinic came one step closer toward offering proton beam therapy, writes Jeff Kiger of the Rochester Post-Bulletin. John Black, co-chairman of Mayo Clinic’s proton beam center project, described the construction of the $185 million proton therapy treatment center as “online, on time and within budget.” He said the project should be able to start treating patients by mid-2015. Proton beam therapy will lower costs associated with treating the side effects and long-term complications associated with radiation therapy and treating recurrent cancer. The Rochester facility will feature four pencil-beam cancer treatment rooms. Each will be equipped with machinery that requires two floors of space to rotate to the proper treatment direction. The Rochester building will be named in honor of Richard O. Jacobson, the founder of the Jacobson Cos. of Des Moines, who gave $100 million to the Proton Beam Therapy Program. The clinic also is building a second $185 million proton center on its Arizona campus.

Longtime St. John’s University football coach John Gagliardi, 86, says he hasn’t made plans yet after his team finished a disappointing 5-5 season. This was Gagliardi’s 64th season as a collegiate head coach with 489 career victories, the most in college football history, writes Frank Rajkowski of the St. Cloud Daily Times. “There’s still a lot to sort out,” said Gagliardi, who concluded his season with a 27-22 loss at Bethel. “I always have a thousand things running through my mind right after a season comes to an end.” Gagliardi said he hasn’t made a decision on whether to retire or return for his 61st season in Collegeville. “If I did decide to get out — in fairness to the next guy — I’d probably want to decide sooner rather than later. And if I came back, I’d want to decide that too because of recruiting.” Until he makes a decision, players said they will go about business as usual. “He’s our leader,” said sophomore wide receiver Rob Voshell. “That’s how we see him and that’s how we’ll continue to see him until he tells us otherwise himself.”

Rothsay voters will decide Dec. 17 whether to spend $24 million to build a new school, according to the Fergus Falls Journal. “We have been gaining 20 to 25 students a year,” said Superintendent Warren Schmidt. “We are bursting at the seams, and at this point we will need to rent facilities or bring in portables for next year to accommodate all of the students.” The current building was built in 1903 and has undergone numerous additions and renovations, the last being in 2003. A study commissioned by the Board of Education determined that bringing the current school up to code requirements would cost $6.9 million without adding more space. The additional 53,000 feet needed to meet the district’s needs would be another $17 million, not including the cost of additional land. The referendum is for a 100,000 square-foot school building. Information on how the $24 million bond would affect property taxes in the district has not yet been completed.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will return for the 2013 St. Cloud Air Show, reports the St. Cloud Daily Times. The 2013 St. Cloud Air Show weekend, proceeds of which will benefit the Central Minnesota Council Boy Scouts, will begin with a pilots’ reception on July 18 followed by the air show on July 20 and 21. “It’s something we just wanted to provide for the community,” said Dave Trehey, Scout executive for the Central Minnesota Council Boy Scouts. “The louder and the faster seems to be the better. We really do expect to have a pretty well-rounded program.” The last major air show in St. Cloud was in 2010 when the Great Minnesota Air Show featured the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, the F-22 Raptor and other acts. The show brought about 70,000 attendees during a two-day span.

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