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UMD students, faculty lobby for cash to prevent cuts

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Fearful about tuition hikes and program cuts at the University of Minnesota Duluth, students, staff and faculty are planning to lobby lawmakers at the Capitol this week.

The Duluth News Tribune reports that a budget shortfall will require UMD to eliminate $9.4 million. UMD officials have proposed $2.5 million in cuts and nearly $700,000 in increased revenue, but students worry that the some of the remaining gap will be closed with tuition increases.

“We’re sick of seeing these high tuition rates and these loan rates that continuously go up, and we want to do something about it,” said Kimberly Newton, president of the Student Association, which is sending a group to St. Paul for Thursday's Bulldog Lobby Day. She added that the group will push for funds for two building updates and new construction on campus, despite Gov. Mark Dayton’s omission of the UMD buildings from his projects budget.

The UMD shortfall is mostly related to a drop in student enrollment and a reduction in state funds. The money the state has contributed to the U of M system fell from $709 million in 2008 to $570 million in 2012.

The Minnesota Daily reports that UMD plans to cut and reorganize faculty and staff and look at combining departments to address the shortfall. The story said that the campus is also reviewing boosting funds by bolstering summer school courses and implementing a new student fee for campus transportation.

Since 2011, UMD’s enrollment has dropped by about 600 students, which University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter said has contributed to the budget problems.

“Even a change of a few hundred students — it creates a pretty significant added financial challenge to them,” he said.

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