Students urge state to find more education money

Thursday, April 26, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:53 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

The basement in Brady Commons was a flurry of activity Wednesday as students packed in to eat free Shakespeare’s pizza and write letters to their elected officials asking them to go further in supporting higher education.

The Graduate Professional Council and the Associated Students for the University of Missouri sponsored Write for Higher Education 2007, which encourages students to write letters to their representatives that focused on issues such as dwindling state support for higher education, House Bill 213 that is known as the “Intellectual Diversity Act,” student loan interest rates and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Where has all the money gone?

Congress cut funding for student loans by $2 billion last year. In 2002, state funds accounted for 47 percent of MU’s revenues and tuition and fees accounted for 42 percent; next year, state funds will account for 35 percent of MU’s total funding, with tuition and fees accounting for 51 percent of campus revenues. The University of Illinois System has three student “trustees,” one who has a vote; the University of Missouri System has one non-voting student representative to the board of curators. MU is set to lose $31 million for the Ellis Fischel Cancer Research Center under the current version of House Bill 16, which would use the sale of student-loan assets to fund campus construction projects; UMKC could lose $15 million for its Pharmacy and Nursing Building. Source: MU’s Graduate Professional Council

“This is really a great opportunity for students to tell their elected officials what higher education issues are important to them,” Damon Ferlazzo, national issues coordinator of the Graduate Professional Council, said.

This was the second letter-writing attempt by the two campus groups, and Ferlazzo said that he expected as many as 300 students to come and write letters; about 100 students participated last year.

“Students are disappointed with the level of support by the government,” Ferlazzo said. “They’d really like to see higher education be a greater priority in Jeff City.”

Students are mainly calling for more funding for higher education, Ferlazzo said.

MU sociology student Kelley Robinson, 21, came to Brady to write a letter because she was “concerned with the state of higher education.”

“It’s important to me, to all students, really,” she said, “because if funds for higher education decrease, my — our — tuition increases.”

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