Regents raise tuition 6.9 percent


News Editor

The South Dakota Board of Regents approved a 6.9 percent rise in tuition and fees March 31, which means students at SDSU will have to pay an extra $472 for the 2011-2012 school year.

“We operate at a time when resources are scarce, yet we have a compelling need to educate and graduate more people,” said Jack Warner, executive director of the BOR during last week’s meeting.  “Educational quality is paramount for us while maintaining quality and affordability for our students.”

The Legislature approved and Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed the fiscal year 2012 general appropriations bill, which called for a 10 percent cut in state spending and resulted in the BOR’s budget being cut by about $17 million.  SDSU’s budget was cut by about $4.7 million, and even with the 6.9 percent increase in tuition and fees, will still have about $1.8 million in cuts to make up.

Bob Otterson, executive assistant to the president, said that SDSU will have to make up more than just the $1.8 million.

“[The] $1.8 million projected shortfall … does not account for unavoidable costs … such as an increase in employers share of health insurance premiums for employees or unforeseen increase in utility rates,” Otterson said. “It also does not take into consideration the shortfall for the Ag. Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Program. The impact at the university as a whole goes beyond the shortfall projected by the regents office.”

During the BOR meeting, Regent Patrick Weber said it’s up to the students and the institutions to make up for the loss in funds.

If we’re going to ask students to make personal cuts to pay for education, it’s fair for institutions to meet them in that goal,” Weber said.  “These students deserve to see that their personal sacrifice is met by an institutional sacrifice.  We’re asking them to come to the table and help … but at the same time they’re not carrying the whole burden.”

Gary Aguiar, president of the South Dakota chapter of the Council of Higher Education, said it’s disappointing to see the 6.9 percent increase.

“If we expect to continue to be the economic leader, then we’ve got to invest in human capital,” Aguiar said.  “If only the rich can afford to go to college, then we aren’t providing those opportunities for the next genius who may not come from a rich family.”

Greg Butz, a senior political science major, thinks the rise in tuition and fees will hit some students hard.

“I think that the people who already have the means to pay for school will continue to pay it and the only people it will discourage will be the people who have the least economic means to pay for college”, Butz said.

Otterson said it has not been determined exactly how SDSU plans to make up the $1.8 million that tuition and fees can’t cover.  He said a university-wide town hall meeting will be held on April 20. The university can expect most of the decisions made in response to the cuts to be in place by then.