Concordia College hosted Larry Pogemiller, director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, in a roundtable discussion Feb. 14 about Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed budget recommendations for higher education.
Dayton has proposed a $240 million investment in higher education, with $80 million going into the Minnesota State Grant program. This is the largest percentage increase in any area of the annual budget and is the largest increase in direct student aid in 25 years.
Pogemiller met with eight students from Concordia, Minnesota State University Moorhead and M State, representing two-year and four-year public and private institutions.
The discussion was an informal opportunity for Pogemiller to hear from students about how they chose a college, what their financial aid situation looks like and how they see their job prospects after graduation.
The topic that seemed to dominate conversation was internships. Students were in general consensus that everyone has to make the tough decision between getting a job – to offset the cost of college – or an unpaid internship – to get a leg up after graduation. Paid internships, they said, are very rare.
“Most of you view an internship as an expectation these days,” Pogemiller said, and the students seemed to agree. Many companies, they said, won’t hire a recent graduate who did not have an internship.
Leaving the discussion, Pogemiller informed the group that helping businesses afford to pay college interns could be an important step toward improvement.
“Higher ed is not a partisan issue in the state legislature,” he said. “We want to turn this around for you.”