SD Regents look to freeze tuition, fees for residents
By Dirk Lammers
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Board of Regents wants to freeze tuition and fees for on-campus resident students in its 2015 budget proposal.
The regents' draft budget, approved Thursday during a meeting in Sioux Falls, would keep students' costs stable by increasing state funding to cover an expected $7.6 million that's due to inflation and a rise in the costs of salaries, benefits, health insurance claims.
The original proposal sought a $4.6 million increase, but board members asked staff to allow for an expected 15 percent jump in state health insurance claim costs.
Dean Krogman, the board's president, said the regents don't want to be in the position of having to later consider a tuition increase because it didn't plan for higher health costs.
"What we have to hold true to is that freezing tuition," Krogman said.
The proposal will go to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who can make changes before he submits it to the Legislature.
Krogman said the state is self-insured for its health benefits, so the anticipated jump would be in claims, not premiums.
Regent Harvey Jewett said he worries that a 15 percent jump estimate may be too low, as many in the industry are looking at claim costs rising 30 percent or higher.
He said it would be hard to go back to the Legislature to ask for help with an unplanned shortfall.
"There's no asking them for more money," Jewett said.
Regent Bob Sutton said a 30 percent increase is speculative, and state insurance officials are working on some ways to keep costs down.
The draft budget anticipates a 3 percent salary increase and an additional 1 percent in salary enhancement for faculty and exempt staff. Inflation is assumed to be at 3 percent.
The board is also looking to increase its maintenance budget for state academic facilities.
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