Tuition on the rise

Kristine Young

Kristine Young News Editor

With the unveiling of Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s proposed budget cuts, students can expect tuition rates to rise.

State support for higher education has dropped from 58 percent to 45 percent in the last decade, said Jack Warner, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents. If Daugaard’s proposed budget is approved, state support will go down to 38 percent. Warner said that because of the budget cuts, students can expect a “reasonable” rise in tuition and fees.

“It’s always a dilemma to chart a course between maintaining stability for students and families, while maintaining the mission of the university,” Warner said. “We want students to have a basic array of services in order to succeed and we will probably reorganize and downsize in order to keep those priorities in mind while making it affordable at the same time.”

Warner said the rise in tuition “will inevitably have an impact on students.” He said students can expect tuition increases to be consistent with the averages over the last dozen years, which is about a 6 to 8 percent rise.

In the last five years SDSU students have seen a 20 percent increase in in-state tuition cost per credit. From fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2011, which ran from July 2009 to July 2010, in-state tuition per credit raised about 8 percent, while the total cost for incoming, in-state cost rose by almost 4 percent. Warner said there are two main priorities the BOR keeps in mind when setting tuition prices.

“One is to maintain enrollment growth projectory and increase the number of graduates,” Warner said. “Second, we want to maintain our recent success in growing our research. We’ve had some high rates of growth in research, but we are still ranked low among other states in the country.”

Warner said that although tuition has been on the rise, South Dakota is still in good shape compared to some surrounding states.

“We’re still priced comfortably within the market,” Warner said. “After this year, we should still be in the middle of the road.” According to the BOR 2011 Factbook, South Dakota ranks third regionally in overall cost, beating Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Montana. North Dakota and Wyoming have a lower overall cost by less than $1,000.

Regardless of how SDSU compares to other institutes, some think the rising costs are still unacceptable and will hurt in the end. Gary Aguiar, associate professor of political science and president of the South Dakota Council of Higher Education, said a student paying for over half of his or her education is “outrageous.”

“Society benefits from having an educated society,” Aguiar said. “If students have to pay more than half [of their education], that excludes a large part of potential students who could be the next great scientists, poets or business leaders and they won’t have the opportunity to help all of us improve our society.”

Warner said that with the current economic environment, the demographic of students is changing.

“The mix has changed a bit. A lot of enrollment growth has been from out-of-state students, which is useful because the only age group in South Dakota that is growing is the over-65 group,” he said. “We need young people to come to the state and stay.”

Warner said the university centers in Rapid City, Aberdeen and Sioux Falls have also grown because they are convenient for working people. He said there has also been an increase of online distant learning students.

Despite rising costs of education, Allison Puckett, a freshman undeclared major, said the cost is worth it in the end.

“Money has been kind of an issue for me, but I think if someone wants something bad enough they are going to have to work for it and sacrifices will be made,” Puckett said.

“…I know there will be some money issues throughout my life, but hopefully it’ll pay off in the long run with the help of a good-paying job.”