South Dakota’s public higher education crowd should find out this week if legislators will finance the almost $1.9 million needed to cover a health insurance shortfall for its employees and thus keep tuition and mandatory fees frozen for resident students in the next academic year.
But Executive Director Jack Warner of the state Board of Regents insists the freeze is still coming even if the pot of surplus dollars at the end of the session doesn’t cover the shortfall.
If the Legislature does approve almost $4 million for anticipated salary increases, “we will freeze in-state tuition,” Warner says. “If we have to tap institutional reserves” to cover the health insurance costs, “we will. But I’m confident there’s enough sympathy to help us out with this.”
Slightly more than two-thirds of the more than 36,000 students in South Dakota’s public university system are state residents.
South Dakota’s undergraduate resident tuition and fees rose by 29 percent from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2013, which ended last June. That was the second-largest increase over that period among nearby states.
At $7,676 last year, resident undergraduate tuition was third highest among Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota, according to a study by the regents. The average among the other seven states was $7,285.