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Tuition Freeze Still in Question as the South Dakota Legislative Session Ends

Tuition increases might be another year away for South Dakota university students. On Wednesday, February 14, the Joint Committee on Appropriations announced the state’s revenue estimates, and it looks like 2025 could bring yet another tuition freeze for students attending SDBOR universities. 

The possibility of extra revenue allows the House and Senate to consider ongoing requests for the state’s budget. This would be the fourth consecutive year tuition freezes would be appropriated into the state’s budget. 

During her 2024 budget address to the state, Gov. Kristi Noem excluded the tuition freeze from her budget recommendations. 

However, many lawmakers have since argued that it is crucial to continue this freeze. 

Vermillion resident and District 17 Representative Chris Kassin sits on the House Appropriations Committee and is currently considering the tuition freeze as this year’s session comes to an end. 

“The Regent’s number one priority was freezing tuition. We’re seeing students come from all over the country, and we’re seeing increases in enrollment through our universities,” Kassin said.  

Kassin said another tuition freeze will continue to draw students to the state for higher education.

Students have echoed these positive remarks for a tuition freeze, according to Student Government Association Vice President Libby Brust. She has worked alongside the student body to advocate for another tuition freeze. 

“A fourth consecutive tuition freeze would be instrumental in continuing the trend of diminishing student loan burden for USD graduates. Between 2020 and 2022, student loan debt for our graduates decreased by $3,623, largely attributed to the tuition freeze instituted by the South Dakota Legislature,” Brust said. 

Forbes Magazine ranked South Dakota as the most affordable state to earn a college degree. For students like Brust, this is largely thanks to the consecutive tuition freezes. 

“The minimal student loan debt acquired by South Dakota graduates speaks volumes about the effectiveness of tuition freezes in the state. By implementing tuition freezes, South Dakota demonstrates its commitment to keeping higher education accessible and affordable,” Brust said. 

The Student Government Association recognized passed Senate Resolution (SR) #4: A Resolution in Support of the South Dakota Legislature and Board of Regents Continuing the Tuition Freeze for Public Universities for the 2024-2025 Academic Year in September. 

Brust said this resolution served as a collective voice for all students attending the University of South Dakota to advocate for affordable tuition. 

“Active efforts to maintain college affordability and accessibility carries significant long-term economic and social benefits as opposed to potential short-term financial gains. We have seen that tuition freezes enhance college retention, leading to more students graduating with degrees in South Dakota who can contribute to the workforce, ultimately fostering a vibrant and competitive economy,” Brust said. 

The South Dakota legislative session ends this Thursday, March 7, when legislators will pass the state’s budget for the next year.