Democratic-NPL disappointed in GOP disregard for ND Colleges and Universities

As Minnesota is set to begin its North Star Promise program to make college more affordable for families, the North Dakota Dem-NPL agrees with the five North Dakota university presidents who are begging North Dakota leaders to respond in kind to stay competitive. However, North Dakotan Republican legislators are just shrugging their shoulders with indifference.

During the Minnesota legislative session, Democrats passed a bill to cover tuition and fees for students from Minnesota families making less than $80,000 who attend a two- or four-year program in the University of Minnesota or Minnesota State system or in-state tribal colleges.

In a recent ND Board of Higher Education meeting, NDSU President David Cook said failing to create a similar program in North Dakota will have “catastrophic implications” since 52% of NDSU students come from Minnesota. He suggested the ND Legislature call a special session to respond with a similar program.

Despite the urgency expressed by the college presidents, Rep. Bob Martinson (R-Bismarck) scoffed at the idea and suggested people would take advantage of it by reducing their income to qualify, according to the Fargo Forum. “We may just have to live with what we have, which would be very difficult for Fargo in particular,” Martinson told the Forum, referring to NDSU’s potential loss of Minnesota students.

“Rep. Martinson’s disrespectful assumptions about families and his disregard for NDSU and the Fargo economy are extremely troubling,” said North Dakota Democratic-NPL Executive Director Cheryl Biller, “College affordability is a key consideration for students, and North Dakota needs to stay competitive to attract students. While Minnesota leaders are focused on what’s most helpful for families and their state’s workforce needs, North Dakota Republicans seem to be satisfied with our state falling behind.”