StarTribune | commentaries
The Sept. 23 editorial “Rethink how state sustains campuses” leaves readers with the impression that the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system relies on the state to pay 100 percent of the cost to repair our facilities. In fact, in addition to the Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) funding that comes from the state, our campuses spend an average of $29 million in operating funds every year to keep our campuses in good repair. As noted in the editorial, state support is critical and has fallen short.
The financial demands on our system received a lot of attention recently. We have a tremendous responsibility to our students and to our state. Our students, 88 percent of whom are from Minnesota and 80 percent of whom stay in Minnesota after graduation, are often the ones who need financial support the most. We want to make sure they are getting the highest quality education at the most affordable cost.
Our state, rightly so, wants us to responsibly manage our costs. We do. In fact, our administrative costs are among the lowest in the country. Of the nation’s 51 similar higher education systems (comparable public institutions), 37 states have higher administrative costs per student than does MnSCU.
The 31 MnSCU schools provide higher education to the most Minnesotans — 430,000 last year — at the lowest cost — roughly half the average cost of other large public universities and roughly one-fifth the cost of private colleges and universities in the state.
At a time when 74 percent of jobs in Minnesota will require some higher education by the end of the decade, we feel a tremendous responsibility to provide the education our students require to prepare them for those careers and the quality of life that comes with higher education. They graduate ready to improve their lives, their family’s lives and their communities. Is there a better long-term investment?
The writer is vice chancellor and chief financial officer of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.