Emmer: I paid my own way through school

MPR’s Capitol View political blog reports Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer’s Humphrey Institute comments on higher education finance:

When a student question asked “How would you assist students so they don’t graduate from college with $50,000 in debt?”, Emmer responded that he understood the frustration since he did the math with seven kids but …

“I’m reminded that I paid my own way. I paid my own my way through college and did it myself. A lot of you are doing the same thing. It took me until my early thirties to pay off the loans that I did have to take for law school. Partly it’s your responsibility. I will tell you that right up front. You need to take control of your destiny. You need to be responsible for it.”

Emmer added that he would like to see students be guaranteed a fixed tuition from a university for the four years that the student goes to that school. He also added that he would like to see a better marketplace to find lower interest rates to pay school.

  • What years did he go to school where tuition was low enough to pay his own way? When my husband was in grad school at UM from 2000 – 2007, tuition went up drastically over those years. Twice the percentage tuition went up in a year was in the double digits. If he thinks that students aren't trying to take responsibility, he's living in a dream world. It is extremely difficult, and somewhat counterproductive to go to school full time and have to work 40 hours a week as well, to try to pay for it and living expenses, etc.

    In the 1970s a person could work a summer at a minimum wage job, and make enough money to pay for school and living expenses for the full school year. That isn't possible today.

  • Let's do some math:
    A year of fees at UC Berkeley cost $670 when I went to college there in the early 70s, while minimumwage was about $2.00/hour. Now fees for a year at Cal are $6230.75 (for CA residents), and the minimum wage is $8/hour. That's not counting books, the cost of eating and rent.
    Mr. Emmer, if fees and tuition increased by a factor of ten, while minimum wage only increased by a factor of 4, do you really think that students can work their way through college the way our generation did?
    And I'll add that I work at the U of MN and my salary is in the lowest quartile of family income for the student body.

  • wbgleason

    As I understand it, Mr. Emmer was a college hockey player. He started out at BC as I recall, pls correct if necessary. Mr. Emmer eventually graduated from the University of Alaska, where he may also have played hockey.

    Questions: How much financial support did Mr. Emmer get from his parents? Was he on a so-called hockey scholarship? What did he do to earn money while in college (probably worked as a waiter and made a lot of money…)?

    I find his claim that he worked his way through college improbable.