Thursday, November 7, 2013

SDBOR Considers Tuition Freeze

A few weeks ago, SDSM&T’s Student Association President, Michael Leopold, was notified during a Student Federation meeting that the Board of Regents was considering pushing for a tuition freeze. The freeze would come into effect during the 2014- 2015 Academic Year, locking tuition and fees at their current rate for another year, for both in and out of state students. This would prevent the annual increase of roughly six percent per year.

This freeze was proposed by the executive head of the Board of Regents, Jack Warner. The Board believes that this freeze is a necessary wake-up call to the state, who, in the interest of conservative fiscal policies, has decreased funding to its public universities. The Board hopes to change that by bringing the issue to the forefront in the coming legislative sessions. The process of actually making the freeze a reality is more complicated. The shortfall in funding will have to be covered by the governor’s budget, which is usually finalized close to the end of the year. If the money is not allocated by the year’s end, both the BOR, and local chapters of student governments will have to lobby quickly and effectively to prevent the stalling of the freeze.

Michael Leopold, president of Student Association, was able to speak to me about possible downsides to the freeze. The point that he wished to emphasize was that while he believes the freeze is a great way to help students save money. However, he is wary of us coming to rely on it from year to year. For example, if we failed to secure the funds needed during a future legislative session, there is the possibility of a rapid jump in tuition. This is because the money that is allocated to cover the shortfall will have to be lobbied for at the beginning of each new fiscal year. This leaves Leopold with uncertainty as to whether this is the best course of action to fight rising tuition at our university.

However, one of the largest selling points of SDSM&T is how cost effective it is in comparison to other state universities. This is huge part of the reason that we so widely publicize both our starting salaries and costs. The finance chair for Student Senate, Spencer Ferguson, also points out that forcing the state to look at more effective ways of funding its universities is a welcome and necessary change that must occur for growth to continue at our school. It will be interesting to see how the freeze progresses. We plan on having more and more updates as the year goes on, so be reading as this is very important material applies to you almost directly. And if you have an opinion or like to see what other people are saying on this issue then head to our newspaper web site at aurumsdsmt. Also feel free to send a letter to the editor by e-mailing  your letter

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