Board of Regents sets student costs for 2003-04

Board of Regents sets student costs for 2003-04 A South Dakota student's average cost to attend one of the state's six public universities next fall will increase 5.8 percent, the South Dakota Board of Regents decided March 13. The board set the cost for the 2003-04 academic year at its meeting in Vermillion.

"At a time when public universities in other states are raising costs to students by double digits, I am pleased the Regents were able to hold our increases to a more modest level," said regents President Harvey C. Jewett. "It is never easy for the board to raise the students' costs. Our top priority is to offer an affordable, quality education to students, while providing the resources necessary for our institutions to operate."

The average total cost for a South Dakota student � including tuition, mandatory fees paid by all students, and room and board � is expected to increase by $427.28 next year. That translates into a total cost of $7,870.80 for a South Dakota undergraduate student taking 32 credit hours per year.

"South Dakota's total annual costs to attend a public university compare very favorably to other states in this region," Jewett said. In the current budget year, South Dakota's weighted average cost was second lowest in the eight-state region, with only Idaho reporting a lower total cost.

Jewett said several cost drivers directly impact the rates being set:


* Salary policy and benefits package � The legislature this year approved a 2 percent salary hike for all general-funded employees, including faculty, exempt personnel, and Career Service workers. Actual dollars to pay for other-funded positions must be raised internally. The legislature also approved a 2.5 percent adjustment to "job worth" for Career Service employees who fall below the mid-point of their salary range.

This particular salary increase does not cover any faculty or non-faculty exempt employees of the regents. The benefits cost includes a health insurance increase of $395.67, a 9 percent increase, per full-time employee. While the legislature provided the dollars to cover this benefits increase for general-funded employees, the regents must raise the dollars internally to cover the increase for other regents' employees.


* FY03 unfunded health insurance cost increase � The regents' budget this year absorbed a hit of more than $1.6 million to pay for an unfunded increase in health insurance costs for state employees. In order to maintain an adequate funding base, the public higher education system required additional funds to cover this base cut.


* Salary Competitiveness Fee � Since 1999, the Board of Regents has applied a special salary competitiveness fee to help boost average salaries for its public university faculty relative to surrounding states. The additional 1 percent added for salary competitiveness will provide a total salary pool of 3 percent for faculty and non-faculty exempt employees in South Dakota.

"This additional support has made a real difference on our campuses," Jewett said. "Salary competitiveness dollars have helped our universities recruit new faculty and better reward those who have demonstrated excellence in their field."

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