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Students prod Dayton, Franken to pursue answers to loan debt

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College students huddled with Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday to share their stories about how the skyrocketing cost of tuition has affected their futures.

Franken at the event at St. Paul College said the trend of ever-increasing student loan debt was bad for America, the Pioneer Press reported. "It's certainly not good for young people who are going to be saddled with debt," he said.

Franken and Dayton were struck by stories students told of working full time to help pay for their education, the student newspaper Minnesota Daily reported. University of Minnesota Student Association President Taylor Williams told Franken and Dayton that he works up to 40 hours a week.

“If I didn’t have to work so much, what could I have focused my time on academically?” Williams said. “What other majors could I have pursued? Where would my grades be right now?”

Dayton as part of his budget proposal is seeking a $240 million increase in higher education funding over the next two years. About $80 million of that would go toward a state grant program to make college more affordable for an additional 5,000 students, the Pioneer Press notes.

Minnesota students have the third-highest average student loan debt in the nation, nearly $30,000, according to a recent report.

Americans now owe $1 trillion on student loans, more than they owe on credit cards, KARE 11 reported.

"It's loans, loans and more loans," Dayton told the students, KARE 11 reported. Here's more of the station's report from the event:

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