OUR VIEW: College tuition a problem that needs attentionEscalating costs are endangering post-secondary education in South Dakota. We’ve been saying that for years.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
Escalating costs are endangering post-secondary education in South Dakota. We’ve been saying that for years.
It’s simple: As prices rise, South Dakota students may put extra consideration into attending school out of state.
As prices rise, high school seniors may just opt to not pursue post-secondary education.
As prices rise, those who do attend in-state schools will find they’ve accumulated a bit of debt that may be hard to overcome as they begin adulthood.
All of the aforementioned scenarios are bad for South Dakota.
Wednesday, members of the South Dakota Board of Regents were given a report that shows that our state’s college fees have sprinted past the same fees paid in nearby states.
For instance, tuition and fees for 30 credit hours for the 2012-13 school year will cost a resident undergrad at a state school between $7,320 and $8,406.
That’s more than resident students pay in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, and more than several state campuses in Nebraska and Minnesota.
Said Regent Jim Hansen: “We are still approaching what I consider dangerous territory in tuition and fees.”
This isn’t new. Two years ago, it was reported that South Dakota leads the nation in the percentage of students leaving college with debt. According to the Project on Student Debt, 81 percent of South Dakota college students leave college with debt, which is much higher than the national average of 59 percent.
Too, the study showed that the average debt for South Dakotan grads was $22,254.
Meanwhile, nothing else is getting cheaper. Homes, taxes, gas, newspaper subscriptions — everything people want to buy — all cost more today than they did five and 10 years ago.
The good news is that a few are trying. Former Gov. Mike Rounds and the Regents spent time promoting the Opportunity Scholarship, a $5,000 stipend available to qualifying students attending South Dakota public universities. It’s a good program, but like all things, $5,000 doesn’t go nearly as far as it did when the program first debuted. The Opportunity Scholarship needs to be increased to better reflect today’s economy.
Meanwhile, the Board of Regents needs to further press the issue of college costs. Hansen’s comments about “dangerous territory” are a good place to start, but now he and the others need to fully acknowledge that a crisis looms.