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Tech institute students face fee increase again

RAPID CITY--Students attending South Dakota's four public technical institutes this fall will pay $5 more per credit hour, despite the tuition freeze approved by the Legislature.

RAPID CITY-Students attending South Dakota's four public technical institutes this fall will pay $5 more per credit hour, despite the tuition freeze approved by the Legislature.

The overall price per credit hour will be $150. The state Board of Education approved the rate Monday.

Tuition will remain at $109 per credit hour because of the freeze. The maintenance and repair fee will stay at $5 per credit hour. The technology fee will remain $1 per credit hour.

The $5 increase comes in the facility fee, which is rising to $35 per credit hour.

The facility fee is used to pay off bonds for construction projects at the Watertown, Mitchell, Rapid City and Sioux Falls campuses.

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The state board has raised the facility fee every year since at least 2011. It was $15 per credit hour then.

What the board might do next year isn't clear.

A student taking 24 credit hours of courses in the 2016-2017 school year would pay $840 for the facility fee, or $120 more than for a student taking 24 credit hours of courses in the current 2015-2016 academic year.

"The five-dollar increase is what we already approved, based on construction," board president Don Kirkegaard, of Sturgis, said.

Board member Terry Sabers, of Mitchell, asked what is anticipated for the 2017-2018 school year.

"I know we've done some wonderful things on campuses, but we have to be aware of the costs to the kids," Sabers said.

Tiffany Sanderson, a state Department of Education official, said they would look at efficiencies or funding requests.

Kirkegaard said the bonding capacity for buildings is tapped out and he doesn't anticipate more construction.

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Sanderson said there is a horizon when construction projects could start again.

"That would be early 2020s before that's even an option, unless something changes on debt payoff," she replied.

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