Regents approve tuition hike

Brittany Westerberg

Brittany Westerberg

Students at all state universities in South Dakota will pay 6.3 percent more in tuition and mandatory fees next year, the South Dakota of Board of Regents decided April 12.

“This is an increase that reflects the most critical needs of the universities,” said Robert T. “Tad” Perry, BOR Executive Director.

The increase in tuition will mean that the average in-state full-time-32 credits a year-undergraduate students will pay $5,822.96 in tuition, including the mandatory university support fee and the general activity fee.

A BOR-issued press release said the fee increase will help pay back state bonds that were approved by the South Dakota Legislature in order to meet critical maintenance and repair of academic facilities at all six campuses.

The increase will also support a salary policy and benefits package that increases salary 3 percent and health insurance premiums $223.

About 1 percent of the total increase will go to efforts to improve the recruitment and retention of faculty and administrators in a salary competitiveness program.

“Without this initiative,” Regents President Harvey C. Jewett said, “our faculty salaries would lag the regional market by more than 28 percent. “By being more competitive, we have been able to recruit new faculty members and reward those who perform well.”

The tuition increase will also be used to match a 3.8 percent inflation increase and to upgrade classroom technology.

“I can kind of understand why it’s being done but I don’t like having to pay more,” said Rachel Tillman, a sophomore education major.

Jewett said in the press release that the legislature provided additional funding to help address utility expenses and to pay for one-time technology purchases.

“Without that support, tuition rates would have been higher,” said Jewett. “We are very grateful for the lawmakers’ efforts.”

According to other press releases from the BOR, over the past three years, tuition and fees have increased at an average of about $270 per year. This is in comparison to next year’s increase of about $346.

This is about the national average of rising tuition and fees rates, however. USA TODAY reported that College Board, a not-for-profit examination board, indicated that the average rise in tuition cost is about 6 percent nationwide.

According to College Board, the average cost of in-state tuition and fees at public colleges has risen 35 percent in the past five years, and in the past 25 years, it has increased faster than personal income, consumer prices and even health insurance.