Funding higher education

BISMARCK, N.D. - Many college students may take the summer off, but there's no break when it comes to finding money for school.

According to the New York Fed, there is $1.5 trillion of student debt in America, and some states are expanding their role in relieving that pressure.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, North Dakota led the country in increased spending per student from 2008 to 2017; increasing more than 37 percent. While other states were cutting higher education during the recession, North Dakota was one of five states to increase funding.

"Our legislature has been very good about continuing to fund education to the point to where we are ahead of all other states in that regard, and that's enabled us to move from 41st on how much we're funded to the 9th," said Jennifer Weber, North Dakota University System Institutional Research director.

In the following years, the University System would see a budget cuts of nearly 20 percent; affecting students and their costs. And some students are more unprepared for those costs than others.

"I visited with a family this the spring and I said, 'I imagine your son has the FAFSA all lined up,' and they said, 'What's FAFSA?'. So I knew that they didn't. So that was kind of a teaching lesson, or a teaching moment, right then to educate the family on what FAFSA is," said Sen. Joan Heckaman, D-New Rockford.

Some states are taking the extra step in protecting students from debt. Yahoo! Finance reported that Maine passed a Student Loan Bill of Rights to protect students from malpractice by loan collectors.

When asked about a Student Loan Bill of Rights in North Dakota, Heckaman didn't say there was a need for that nor that one was being considered.