SA discusses position on tuition

Heidi Kronaizl News Editor

Students’ Association began their discussion on the proposed tuition freeze and whether or not to support it during their meeting on Monday, Sept. 16. 

Executive board members of the association met with executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents Jack Warner on Friday, Sept. 13. The members asked Warner for basic information and asked questions so they could report back to the rest of SA. Sen. Caleb Finck made a presentation on the process the tuition freeze will take to either be passed or rejected by South Dakota legislation. Finck also presented what the monetary specifics of the freeze entailed.

The Board of Regents is requesting $5 million from South Dakota legislators to make the tuition freeze possible. The funds would be used to cover the costs of inflation and health benefits, costs that were previously funded by students.

Discussion amongst the association began on whether or not they will support the freeze. The University of South Dakota and Northern State University have made their decisions and have expressed their support for the freeze. SA will wait until Monday, Sept. 23 to write up a resolution and vote on whether or not to pass it.

One large topic amongst the senators was out-of-state tuition.

“Out-of-state tuition will not be fully affected by the tuition freeze,” Finck said. 

Because general activity fees are the same for all students, and they are included in the proposal, they will also remain the same for out-of-state students.

“When tuition comes into play, due to the way the reciprocity agreements work … South Dakota tax payers unfortunately are not willing enough to fund the extra money that it would take for us to freeze the tuition of the out-of-state people,” Finck said.

The freeze would apply for in-state residents that are taking classes on campus. However, there is potential for there to be a freeze for students in the Western Undergraduate Exchange because students’ tuition under the program is 150 percent of what the state’s in-state tuition is.

Another concern of SA’s was if the Wellness Center expansion could still be funded if the freeze were to take effect.

“We don’t even know how much things are going to cost … Once these documents go through and we are able to hire an architect and put a face on the building, then we can start talking about numbers,” said Vice President Zach Neubert. 

If SA were to begin the planning needed for the Wellness Center this school year, the planning would all be done in five months.

“We would have to rush all the planning,” Finck said.

SA does not plan to rush the planning on the Wellness Center Expansion, but rather to wait and take their time in making plans. 

When discussing the freeze’s time span, it was said that it would only be for one year. With the processes of legislation, currently it would have to be done year by year. 

In comparison to the timeline of South Dakota’s potential freeze, Minnesota’s recent tuition freeze was brought up during the discussion. According to a University of Minnesota news release, Minnesota allocated $42 million to freeze in-state undergraduate tuition for two years.

In concern of how many students the freeze would affect, the topic of SDSU’s population came up.

“I would kind of like to know what the statistics of SDSU’s population are,” said Sen. Thomas Cox. “How many students are resident on-campus, versus online or off campus.”

Sen. Ben Ruggeberg stated that he had called the Office of Admissions and that 35 percent of students are out-of-state residents and 65 percent are in-state residents.

“If all the schools support it, or the majority of the schools support it … I would absolutely anticipate to see something,” Finck said. “The regents can’t go to this alone … for this to happen the schools have to be behind them.”