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Response to President Obama's higher education proposals

August 22, 2013

University of Minnesota Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster released the following statement today regarding President Barack Obama's higher education proposals.

"The University of Minnesota shares President Obama’s belief that it is time to modernize the higher education financial aid system and align it with today’s economic and fiscal realities. The Obama Administration’s focus on affordability and access, graduation rates, student success and student debt is consistent with our goal of providing a world-class education that is affordable to all Minnesotans - one that will prepare students to enter and thrive in a global economy while graduating on time.

"We are committed to keeping the University accessible and affordable for all students. Our Twin Cities campus provides the lowest net price of any Minnesota four-year institution, public or private, for those most in need – families with incomes below $75,000. Initiatives such as the U of M Promise Scholarship and the President’s Emerging Scholars program, along with our renewed partnership with the state, ensure that all Minnesotans have access to their state’s land grant university. The University recently has established scholarship programs that focus on middle-income students who fall just above the Pell criteria. 

"Strong institutional commitment has created a comprehensive culture supporting student success; as a result, the Twin Cities campus has experienced record high rates of undergraduate retention, graduation and degrees conferred.

"Beginning with freshmen entering in the fall of 2005 through the graduating class of 2012, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities has:

  • Increased by eight percent the number of degree-seeking undergraduates receiving federal PELL grants (up to 26% in aid year 2012, from 18% in aid year 2006;
  • Increased by 11 percent four-year graduation rates, to above 58% total for the latest graduating class (entered in 2008 and graduated in 2012);
  • Increased by 10 percent six-year graduation rates, to 73% for the latest graduating class (entered in 2006 and graduated in 2012);
  • Increased by 21 percent the number of undergraduate degrees awarded, from 6,317 in 2006 to 7,617 in 2012.

"In January, the University launched its Office of eLearning to support and enhance teaching and learning through technology. Professors have begun to implement flipped classrooms, while our partnership with Coursera allowed five U faculty to host massive open online courses (MOOCs) this summer. At least five additional University of Minnesota MOOCs will be offered in 2014.

"While tying federal aid to quality/outcomes metrics makes sense, we do want to understand more of the administration’s plan in this area. Our mission is to graduate students who have the skills and acumen to enter the workforce and be successful.

"We look forward to working with the administration and our congressional delegation to develop this proposal further. In the meantime, we remain committed to doing all we can for our students and their families."

Twin Cities Campus: