BOR proposes tuition freeze

Heidi Kronaizl News Editor

Students may get relief from the rising costs of tuition. The South Dakota Board of Regents is pledging a freeze on tuition and fees for the upcoming school year.

Historically, tuition and fees have risen on average of 6 to 7 percent a year. The proposed tuition freeze would keep tuition and general activity fees from rising for the following school year. In order to allocate the freeze the South Dakota Board of Regents has requested $5 million from the legislature. 

The funds would be used to cover a portion of salaries and health benefits, which was normally covered by inflation. 

“Salaries have to account for inflation… so those costs go up, and someone has to pay for that… in the last several years that cost has been passed on the students in the form of a tuition increase so we can pay for those increases,” said Students’ Association Sen. Caleb Finck.

Because inflation and health benefit costs are on the rise, it is hard to predict how much money will be needed to allocate the costs. 

“We don’t know if we will get this $5 million request or not,” said SDBOR Director of Communications Janelle Toman.

If the BOR is not granted the complete $5 million they have requested; there is a possibility that they would continue the freeze if they are granted less money.

Because the money is coming from South Dakota’s legislature, students that qualify for the freeze are in-state residents that are taking courses on a university campus. 

“This particular proposal applies only to in-state students … does not include out of state tuition,” Toman said. “We don’t exactly know what tuition increase might be. We don’t want to raise it on the backs of out of state students because instate students are froze.”

Students that are under the Western Undergraduate Exchange, a program that supplies a reduced tuition rate that is 150 percent of resident tuition, it is possible that those students could see a freeze as well.

The first indication on whether or not the freeze will pass will be in December. The Board of Regents has sent their requests for the year to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, with the money to allocate the tuition freeze being among them. After Daugaard receives all the requests, he will make a budget recommendation. 

Later, the appropriations committee will make a hearing and then the BOR waits for approval by the House and Senate. The legislation does not get a solid number as to what their base budget is until the last week of session, which prolongs the process. Legislators could wait to make their decision on the freeze until the last date of session. The last day of session is Friday, March 14.

“ [This is the] first step to letting everyone know what our priorities are,” Toman said.