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Campus nonprofit group set to lose $50,000 in funding next year

University of Montana's oval and Main Hall.
Josh Burnham
Montana Public Radio

A nonprofit that encourages civic engagement and voting among college students says it’s set to lose an estimated $50,000 in student fees next year. That information was first reported by the Daily Montanan.

The Montana Public Interest Research Group, better known as MontPIRG, has operated on state college campuses for nearly four decades. University of Montana students recently voted to renew a fee to fund the organization, but Daily Montanan reporter Keila Szpaller told MTPR the Board of Regents hasn’t approved the fee this year.

“And, there’s some finger-pointing around that,” Szpaller said. “The commissioner’s office said UM never asked for the fee to go on the Board of Regents’ agenda, but MontPIRG says that’s because the commissioner’s office pressured UM not to forward it.”

Szpaller reports Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian has urged boundaries around funding political organizations with student fees.

Szpaller says neither the Board of Regents nor the commissioner’s office responded to the allegation that politics played a role in blocking the fee. The possible budget reduction could hamper the organization's youth get-out-the-vote efforts heading into next year’s elections when every statewide position is on the ballot.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

He is best reached by emailing
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