South Dakota

South Dakota Pulls the Rug Out From Under Minnesota Tuition Deal

Well, this is a real kick in the pants for students and families planning on that discounted Minnesota tuition. In a move that seemingly came out of nowhere, the South Dakota Board of Regents has abruptly ended their long-standing tuition reciprocity agreement with Minnesota starting next school year.

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The Backstory: A Deal Gone Sour After Decades

For over 40 years, this reciprocity deal allowed students from both states to attend any public university on either side of the border while paying the in-state tuition rate.

It was a sweet setup – South Dakota kids could become Gophers at a discount, Minnesota students could flock to places like SDSU without the out-of-state price gouging.

But alas, all good things must come to an end. The Board of Regents is cutting ties, leaving many scrambling in the 11th hour before the Fall 2024 semester. Parents who already paid deposits and housing fees for their kids at U of M? Tough luck, at least for now.

So What’s Behind This Sneak Attack?

The short answer: South Dakota wants more Minnesota kids, period. By nixing the reciprocity deal, the state can now offer Minnesotans the same in-state tuition rates as surrounding states through their “Dakota Advantage” program. We’re talking nearly $1,400 in annual savings compared to the old reciprocity rate.

Nathan Lukkes, a Board of Regents spokesman, frames it as a “competitive advantage” to grow South Dakota’s workforce and university enrollment. Sure, it stings for South Dakotans hoping to be Gophers, but it’s red carpet treatment for any Minnesotans considering “East River” schools.

The Financial Fallout: A Jarring Difference

Here’s where it gets really hairy though. While new Minnesota students get a discount at South Dakota schools, the opposite is true for South Dakotans admitted to places like Minnesota State-Mankato.

Right now, they pay $8,438 under the reciprocity deal. Without it? A teeth-grinding $16,731 out-of-state sticker price – nearly double.

Lukkes says currently enrolled students can still use the reciprocity rates to finish their degrees, but incoming freshmen are out of luck without that cross-border discount.

For middle-class families stretching every dollar, this abrupt change could snap long-held college plans and rewrite young adults’ futures entirely. All thanks to a bureaucratic maneuver that conveniently flew under the radar until just days ago.

Lack of Transparency? You Bet

Speaking of under-the-radar, the Board claims they announced this back in December, but you’d be hard-pressed to find parents who saw it coming based on the outrage now. We’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars in unanticipated costs here.

As one mom from Sioux Falls lamented, “If the Board made this decision in December, why weren’t people notified then about the change?” An excellent question with no good answer so far.

At the end of the day, this saga reeks of institutions putting their own interests first with little regard for how it rocks the lives of students and families with colossal financial impacts. For those caught in the crossfire, it’s a harsh lesson that the “discount” worth counting on can vanish in an instant – along with your expected game plan and wallet balance.

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