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New students of neighboring states to receive in-state tuition in South Dakota starting in summer 2019

ABERDEEN, S.D. — Students from six neighboring states will be able to attend any South Dakota public state university at in-state tuition rates beginning in summer 2019.

Members of the South Dakota Board of Regents on Wednesday, Dec. 5, unanimously voted to approve what they call the South Dakota Advantage program, which will allow new freshmen and transfer students from Colorado, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming to attend any of South Dakota’s six state universities for the same price as in-state residents.

The new program does not include Minnesota because there is an existing tuition reciprocity agreement between the two states.

For Fiscal Year 2019, in-state tuition for each of South Dakota’s six public universities ranges from $243.30 to $254.20 per credit hour, and out-of-state from $342.40 to $391.10.

New out-of-state students at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology could see the greatest savings of $141.40 per credit hour. For a student taking an 18-credit course load, that’s a savings of over $2,500 in a single semester.

The motivation behind the move is to boost out-of-state student enrollment, which board members said dipped a number of years ago following out-of-state tuition hikes. According to the board, out-of-state tuition has since then been lowered several times, and every time it is lowered, enrollment goes up.

By going all the way to in-state tuition for students of neighboring states, the board said they hope enrollment will increase further and get universities closer to capacity.

According to Fall 2018 enrollment data provided by the Board, over 13,000 of South Dakota’s approximately 36,000 public university students — nearly 37 percent — come from out of state.

Once they come to South Dakota, Board President Kevin Schieffer said students are more likely to stay in-state, thus encouraging workforce development post-graduation.

Members also noted several tuition reciprocity agreements already exist between some of the state’s public universities and neighboring states. Vice President John Bastian said students from each of these six neighboring states can already go to at least one South Dakota public school at an in-state rate, so it “isn’t a giant leap” to broaden the scope to any public school.

Schieffer referred to these existing agreements as “pilots,” and said they have proved successful in the past.

“Every time we’ve reduced tuition, it has increased revenue. So this is not a giveaway, I want to make sure folks understand,” he said. “This is a win for South Dakota students, as well as out-of -state students.”

Current out-of-state students from the six neighboring states will not benefit from the new program. Board Director of Communications Janelle Toman did not respond to a request for comment on that issue Wednesday evening.

Contact Sarah Mearhoff at smearhoff@forumcomm.com or 610-790-4992.