Editorial Roundup: South Dakota

Yankton Press & Dakotan. January 3, 2023.

Editorial: Regents Plan To Extend Tuition Break A Good One

The South Dakota Board of Regents is attempting to bolster the numbers in its university system by extending its program to offer in-state tuition to out-of-state students.

Last month, the regents voted to add Illinois and Wisconsin to the South Dakota Advantage Plan, which offers in-state tuition rates to students from certain other states.

Other states covered on the Advantage Plan include Colorado, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming. (Meanwhile, Minnesota and South Dakota have a deal agreed to in 1978 in which Minnesota residents attending public university in South Dakota must pay the higher rate between resident tuition at the school at which they enroll or the average rate of nine Minnesota schools.)

The aim of the plan is to make South Dakota a more attractive option for students from other states.

“We are always looking for opportunities to grow our enrollment and bring more people into South Dakota,” said SDBOR Executive Director Brian Maher in a press release. “By increasing our regional reach and offering a competitive tuition rate, we’re optimistic that our state will appeal to those students.”

According to The Associated Press, these out-of-state students will pay in-state rates of $253.85 per credit hour at Black Hills State University, Dakota State University and Northern State University; $259.10 per credit hour in undergraduate studies at the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University; and $260.55 per credit hour in undergraduate studies at South Dakota School of Mines.

The move is a prudent one that will hopefully create some momentum in South Dakota university enrollment. The latest attendance numbers for the state system issued in September showed a modest 0.7% gain in overall enrollment, which snapped a five-year streak of falling numbers. According to a Press & Dakotan story, it marked only the second time the system has seen enrollment growth since 2013.

Also, the regents’ decision could have an economic impact for the state. According to a regent press release, “Findings have shown that approximately 30% of nonresident students remain in the state after graduation. This educated workforce is critical to our state, filling growing high-tech jobs, meeting the demands in health fields, and keeping entrepreneurs in South Dakota.”

Higher education is, among other things, a competitive business, and making South Dakota’s offering more financially attractive can help bolster the overall picture. Of course, it can only be one facet of that effort — this state’s universities must have the programs to attract the interest of prospective students in the first place — but improving the price tag can add an important and welcome incentive to that process.