- Associated Press - Thursday, April 3, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The South Dakota Board of Regents has passed a tuition freeze for in-state students at the six state schools after lawmakers approved extra funding for the colleges in the state budget.

Regents President Dean Krogman applauded the governor and legislature for covering inflation, health insurance and staff salary costs usually paid with student tuition. The state budget provides nearly $4 million for these expenses.

“State policymakers recognized the importance of providing a higher education to all eligible South Dakotans, while keeping cost at an affordable level,” Krogman said.

Jack Warner, executive director of the Board of Regents, said the financial help from the state allows the board to keep students and faculty happy. During the recession, the board froze employee salaries, and that relieved some pressure on tuition.

“We are mindful that we need to keep our salaries competitive,” Warner said.

He said a tuition freeze emerged as a priority for the board last summer when the regents started working on their budget requests.

“We’ve been concerned about affordability for some time,” Warner said. “Our prices could be a barrier for lower-income students to complete their degrees.”

And, he said, that is what the board wants them to do.

Caleb Finck with the South Dakota State University Students’ Association said it’s tough to see rates go up every year, especially for students who didn’t expect or budget for the changes.

“Keeping (tuition) as affordable as possible is always the best option,” said Finck, a junior.

He said the savings might not look like much per credit hour, but it will add up for students.

Annual tuition and fees at SDSU have gone up more than $1,100 compared to 2009-10. This year SDSU undergraduate students pay $7,700 for 30 credit hours.

The Board agreed unanimously on the freeze Wednesday. It establishes tuition changes at its annual April meeting.

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