To attend one of the six South Dakota universities, a student’s bill for the 2018-2019 school year is approximately $16,950.

“When a student comes to a university, they get a bill. How it is paid is the next step; either in full themselves, or individual scholarships, borrowed money and other personal resources,” said Paul Berans, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents.

A student’s two-semester cost includes tuition for 15 credits per semester, mandatory fees such as a student pass, food service plan, double-occupancy housing, and laptop fee if any. Costs increase with laboratories, course discipline fees and other individual program costs.

“What has happened over the last 15-20 years is a flip-flop of how much students pay and how much the state pays for higher education,” Berans said. “At around a 60/40 percent split back then, the state of South Dakota was paying a much greater percentage over what the students paid.”

As of 2017, students pay through tuition, fees, and housing approximately 54 percent of the operating budget for the state’s universities. The state, with only some federal funding, pays approximately 46 percent of the total.

The SD Board of Regents oversees the state’s six universities, the SD School for the

Blind & Visually Impaired, and the SD School for the Deaf. The six state universities are Black Hills State University in Spearfish, Dakota State University in Madison, Northern State University in Aberdeen, University of South Dakota in Vermillion, South Dakota State University in Brookings, and SD School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City.

The entire university system has a Fiscal Year 2019 operating budget of approximately $805 million. Rounded figures are supplied by Monty Kramer, chief financial officer for the Board of Regents. Appropriated state tax money accounts for $213 million. Federal money makes up $90 million. The SD Office of School and Public Lands supplies $1.9 million. Total student tuition and fees covers $293 million, with room and board covering another $46 million. Other funds - business enterprises, athletic intake, bookstore sales, etc. - is about $161 million.

The 2020 budget and future trends are still uncertain. “We don’t know exactly what is going to happen in the state legislature,” Beran said. “The regents will continue being active in telling the importance of education. A small input results in a big gain in education and what it benefits the state. Education is an investment. It may not be as concrete as, say, the Dow Jones, but education will produce a populace that will benefit the job market, the state, and the country.”

“It is really about postsecondary education. Our universities do a great job in these investment aspects,” Beran said.

Fall 2018 student enrollments total for the universities is 35,737, down by 925 from a year earlier. A full time student is one who is taking at least 15 credit hours per semester. With many exceptions, especially courses that require laboratories, the average class is worth three credits. Based on the total credit hours enrolled by all students, divided by 15 credit hours, there were 26,093 full-time equivalent students. This is down by 541 from the previous year. This comparison also shows that there are more part time students than the previous year.

Approximately 6,700 students graduated from SD universities last year. About 63 percent of current college students are from South Dakota. About 71 percent of these students remained in the state after graduation. About 27 percent of the current students are ‘non-traditional,’ or older than 24 years.

The SD university system hires approximately 5,100 full time employees. The 2017 total population in SD was 869,666, thus students and college employees are about 4.7 percent of the state’s population.

Appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate, the members of the SD Board of Regents serve six-year, rotating terms. They are limited to two consecutive full terms. One of the regents is a student, serving two years. Regent members are Kevin Schieffer - president, John Bastian - vice president, Jim Morgan - secretary, Paul Beran - executive director, and members Jim Thares, Pam Roberts, David Mickelson, Randy Schaefer, Joan Wink and Lucas Lund - student member.

The Regents’ next meeting is December 4-6 at NSU in Aberdeen. The Spring semester for the SD universities starts January 1, 2019.

Capitol Bureau reporter Del Bartels can be reached at del.bartels@capjournal.com

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