By Gov. Dennis Daugaard
The cost of higher education across the country has risen much faster than the rate of inflation over the past few decades. Higher education is less affordable now than it has been in a very long time. Although South Dakota institutions are less expensive than most in the rest of the country, we should still strive to keep higher education affordable.
Today’s jobs are increasingly requiring a higher percentage of workers who have education beyond a high school diploma. South Dakota will need more graduates with everything from technical certificates to Ph.D.’s. To continue adding high paying jobs in innovative fields, the state must have the educated workers companies need.
Nursing, welding, machining and accounting are just a few of the areas where South Dakota needs a larger workforce. A common theme tying these careers together is the need for additional education after high school.
Students also reap tremendous benefits from higher education. People who earn a degree after high school earn higher wages throughout their lives than those with no advanced degree.
When I was in college, I worked every summer, and also had part-time jobs during the school year. Working to help pay for one’s own educational costs is a good thing; we all value those things for which we must work. Still, we must ensure that the cost of higher education does not rise to a level at which students are unable to afford it.
My budget this year includes funds to hold down tuition at our universities and at our technical institutes. I also hope to move this conversation to the forefront of policy discussions for the years to come. Higher education in South Dakota is a vital piece for the future of this state and we must ensure that all South Dakotans can afford the investment.