Tuition hike bearable if put in perspective

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Start holding onto those spare dollar bills. Going to school at SDSU is going to cost more next year.

That’s right. With a vote by the Board of Regents last week as they met in rooms of SDSU’s Student Union, tuition at state-funded schools in South Dakota is going up 5.5 percent.

In general terms, that will mean an average undergraduate student will see an increase of around $266 on next year’s tuition statement.

And while this news may not be music to the ears of hard-working college students already reliant on loans and part-time work to pay for school, it’s important to remember that it could easily be worse.

In the Regents’ discussion of the proposal to increase tuition, Executive Director Tad Perry pointed out the more serious situations elsewhere.

Neighboring states like North Dakota and Iowa are increasing tuition by double digit percentages for next fall. Some systems, like those in Colorado and Arizona, he said, are seeing tuition hikes as high as 40 percent.

With statistics like that at hand, South Dakota students should take heart at their relative fortune and send a few spare dollars to their more indebted friends in Denver or Flagstaff.

A second key point to remember when discussing college tuition is the fact that, in the long run, a college education has value that far outweighs the up-front cost to the student. Coughing up $4,800 next year for classes can turn into a lot more money when it comes time to leave campus for a life in the outside world.

The difference in earnings alone between a college grad and someone without a degree over a lifetime is enough to recoup the newly estimated $20,000 tuition investment dozens of times over.

Add in the intangible returns on an investment in higher education — the friendships, the networking opportunities, the extracurricular activities, the broadened perspectives — and it becomes clear that South Dakota students are still getting a pretty good bang for their college tuition buck.

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