St. Olaf student Read Karsell ’21 went to the Minnesota State Capitol building to advocate for the Minnesota State Grant on Feb. 13. As a member of the Student Government Association Senate and the Minnesota Association of Private College Students, Karsell went on behalf of St. Olaf to meet with other student representatives and joined them in giving a personal testimony to the Higher Education Committee of Minnesota on why Minnesota should maintain the state grant.
The Minnesota State Grant is a grant that Minnesota students qualify for through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and provides an average of $5,800 to each St. Olaf student receiving the award.
There are 460 St. Olaf students currently receiving the grant – this works out to be one in every seven students on campus. In the greater community of all Minnesota public and private universities, 80,793 students receive the grant, one in every four Minnesota students.
In his speech, Karsell noted that with the average class size around 25 students, the state grant makes college possible for three to four of those students.
“That would be four fewer voices contributing the unique perspective they had on the reading,” Karsell said. “Four fewer voices to share an experience that may challenge my current beliefs or understanding. Four fewer voices who potentially would receive a lesser education or no undergraduate education without the state grant.”
Karsell said it was nerve-wracking but exciting to present to the Higher Education Committee. He said the experience was both eye-opening and rewarding. “It’s cool to know that our state really supports students in this way,” Karsell said.
Before going to the Capitol, Karsell prepared by speaking with students on campus that do receive the state grant. He spoke with students about the burdens the state grant relieve and reflected on the ways in which his St. Olaf experience would be different if the state grant did not exist.
The Minnesota State Grant was recently expanded, and Karsell spoke about his excitement over increased support for education.
The grant will see a $295 increase in each award given to a full time Minnesota student, and will also attempt to expand in order to reach 9,000 additional students. These changes will go into effect this coming summer.