My name is Maggie Bornstein and I am currently in my sophomore year at the University of Montana, where I study African-American studies. Originally from Massachusetts, the first time I registered to vote in Montana was with FMF, and it wasn’t long after that I became an intern, then a fellow, and now and ambassador for the 6-Mill Levy on the campus that is my second home. In my current position, my love for education, youth power, and Montana have collided, and to put it simply, I am living the damn dream.
The 6-Mill Levy provides critical funding to the Montana University System that allows for students like me to stay in school in hopes of bettering this place I have grown to love. In my home state, students pay $16,000 every year in tuition costs alone, which total to roughly $30,000 annually, including the cost of room and board. Here at the University of Montana, my total cost of attendance is still more affordable as an out of state student than it would be if I had stayed in Massachusetts to continue my education. As many as three other alumni from my suburban high school have come to the University of Montana in the past five years to pursue a more affordable education. While I could not have ended up going to college in a more special place, I often feel sad to have been raised in a state that drives thousands of students to seek education elsewhere–or often times, not at all. Without the 6-Mill Levy, students across the state will see an 18% increase in their tuition costs. For students from Montana, that is nearly a $1,500 increase. For students like me, approximately a $4,500 increase on our bill. What that means: 1 in every 4 UM student will be paying more than what I would be paying back home, in the third most expensive state to live in in the United States.
Basically, I am trying to say that the 6-Mill Levy is indescribably important and our state is at risk. Affordable education is not simply the cause of working-class students–it is the cause of Montanans. Montanans who want good teachers for their children and grandchildren; Montanans who want to have public servants who create good jobs; Montanans who want to be treated for illness and injury; Montanans who want clean water and a healthy environment.
So here at Forward Montana, we’re fighting the good fight–hard. We are on our campus collecting hundreds of pledges in support of the 6-Mill every single week until the election this November. We are talking to folks about what their education means to them, and let me tell you, it is inspiring. We’re gearing up to expand our outreach by planning some awesome community events to put those inspiring stories into words and get them published (we’re talking LTEs, baby). This campaign is statewide and being led by some of the most badass young Montanans I have had the pleasure of knowing. Want to get involved? Not a UM student? No worries–find our MSU ambassador, Annie, who is slaying the game in Bozeman, or email our 6-Mill Levy lead, Hannah Pate, at email@example.com to lend a helping hand from anywhere in the 406.