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Regents freeze tuition, fees for residents

MADISON — The Board of Regents adopted a zero-increase policy Wednesday for tuition and mandatory fees for most students at South Dakota’s six state universities.

The freeze applies for next school year starting this fall to resident students who attend classes on campus. Infl ationary increases will occur for housing and meal plans.

The regents set the rates during their regular business meeting at Dakota State University.

“This is an easy motion this year,” regent Randy Morris, of Spearfish, said.

The average increase last year was 4.4 percent. The previous years were 6.5 percent, 6.9 percent, 4.6 percent and 5.9 percent.

The freeze was the regents’ top priority for the 2014 legislative session and received the endorsement of Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

The Legislature provided more than $3.9 million in additional funding to cover expense increases that normally come from tuition and fees.

Those supplements were $2.1 million for employee salary improvements, $1.3 million for employee health insurance and $573,284 for inflation in operations.

“It’s probably the best session I’ve seen being out there 30 years,” Regents President Dean Krogman, of Brookings, said.

Regents Director of Communications Janelle Toman described the session as “extraordinarily successful” and said it was unlike any she had previously experienced.

The regents base budget increased 3.6 percent plus the tuition buy-down and salary policy, Toman said.

Non-resident tuition and fees for on-campus students will increase an average of $585 or 5.7 percent.

Off-campus courses including at the three university centers will increase in price.

Resident tuition will go up 3.7 percent per credit hour and non-resident tuition will rise 6.3 percent. Parking permits will remain the same.

Residence hall rates will increase 2.88 to 9 percent depending on the hall and the campus.

Food service plans will rise 4.8 to 7 percent, varying by plan and campus

Regent Harvey Jewett, of Aberdeen, asked whether housing and food service increases violate the verbal agreement with the Legislature to keep fees flat for resident students.

Regents Vice President of Finance Monte Kramer said housing and food were to be considered separately.

Regents Executive Director Jack Warner said South Dakota’s room and board costs tend “to be a little bit lower in the aggregate” than for neighboring states.

Last week, the state Board of Education froze tuition for students at the four public technical institutes but increased mandatory fees by 3 percent.

Overall, the regents received more than $13.4 million in additional ongoing funding from the Legislature, according to budget manager Claudean Hluchy.

There also were various one-time appropriations made for special projects and programs.

The tuition buy-down for the universities allows state-support tuition, mandatory fees, program fees and delivery fees to remain unchanged for resident students, according to accounting manager Mary Ellen Garrett said.

The most-current data for the eight-state region show that in 2012, South Dakota’s state universities received the second-most revenue from tuition per student at $7,129, Garrett said, while the Legislature provided the second-lowest amount of support per student at $4,195.