To attract students outside the borders of South Dakota, the Board of Regents offered a tuition break to students from Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and Colorado at the beginning of the 2019 fall semester. This is the first semester the university has had to market the tuition advantage to students from theses states.
In the fall 2019 semester, the university had 15 first-year students enrolled from Montana, Colorado, North Dakota and Wyoming, according to data compiled by USD Institutional Research, USD Undergraduate Applications Tracker. Those students only make up .01% of the freshman class.
Prior to the tuition rate switch, students from North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana paid $12,800 for tuition each year. Now students from these states pay the in-state rate of about $9,300 per year.
Mark Petty, dean of enrollment, said historically the university has enrolled students from around the region, and it is important for the university to enroll students from states other than South Dakota.
“Having students who enroll from out of state communities allows us to be diverse and inclusive and allows students to bring their own experiences and share those with us here in Vermillion,” Petty said.
Not only is it beneficial for the school to enroll out of state students, but it is helpful for the students as well. Petty said that students benefit from interacting with a wide variety of students with different experiences.
“When the student graduates and they go out to the workforce, they are going to have to work with people from all over the country and all over the world,” Petty said.
Out of these four states, the largest number of students come from Colorado. Petty said traditionally students from Colorado tend to be more willing to travel out of state to enroll in other colleges.
Sydney Fulton, a sophomore from Denver, knew attending an out-of-state university was always the right decision for her.
“I’ve always wanted to go to school out of state,” Fulton said. “Ever since I started looking at schools, I knew I wanted to get out of Colorado.”
Because students from these states reside so far from Vermillion, it’s harder for the university to make in-person connections throughout the admissions process, Petty said.
Because of the distance, visits to these states are limited. However, Petty said that USD attends a national college fair in Denver to reach students. Phone calls, text messages and social media connections are other resources the admissions office uses to interact with potential students.
The university also works with academic advisors to make connections with students. Admitted students receive personalized emails and mailing relevant to their academic programs as well as emails from academic recruiters, Petty said.
Alexandra Baer, a freshman psychology major from North Dakota, said she had a great connection with the admissions office.
“They had so much insight and advice for out of state students like me which was very reassuring and made it easier for me to pick USD over other schools,” she said.
Because some out-of-state students are so far from home, they sometimes have to miss out on things back home. Baer is four hours from her home in Fargo, North Dakota, and she has had to make sacrifices by going to school so far away.
“Being further away from home was a hard choice, to begin with,” Baer said. “Being away from my family and friends is by far the most difficult, as I am very close with my parents and older brother and friends back home.”