Anoka-Ramsey will be impacted by inadequate state investment in higher education.
By Axel Kylander
This summer, Anoka-Ramsey’s administration decided to raise tuition by three percent. This decision came after a lengthy process of analysis, budget consultations, advocacy in the state legislature and an assessment of the projected financial health of the college that pointed to a tuition increase being necessary to maintain services in the aftermath of inadequate state investment.
The 2019 legislative session was a funding year for the State House and Senate to determine a budget for Minnesota for 2019 to 2021. As part of this process, the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities requested $246 million in funding in order to keep tuition flat and maintain services provided to students at public two- and four-year colleges and universities in the state.
The Star Tribune reported that Minnesota State colleges and universities ended up receiving “roughly a third” of the requested funding. This led to the Board of Trustees, which oversees the entire college system, to vote to allow its member schools to increase tuition up to 3% for the 2019 – 2020 academic year.
“The State didn’t do us any favors.” Summarized Don Lewis, Anoka-Ramsey’s Vice President of Finance and Administration, regarding the college’s budget situation. He characterized the “big picture” of the college’s finances as stable and able to maintain its status quo while exploring new options. Lewis called this “a half-step better than staying afloat.”
However, Lewis also noted that the day-to-day operating realities of the college pose “much more of a challenge.” He said that the appropriated funds were “not sufficient” to meet the operating costs of the college, thus shifting more of the college’s expenses onto students.
Of the 2020 – 2021 academic year, Lewis said that the state’s funding allocation for colleges is likely going to be “worse than this year.” If the legislature does not make an increased investment in higher education, the Board of Trustees and college administrations will once again have to weigh the option of increasing tuition, causing what would be, for many students, an even greater barrier to affording and graduating from college.