SDBOR Public University Affordability Dashboard
Keeping college affordable is a critical priority for the South Dakota Board of Regents. By working to keep tuition, fees, and other expenses as low as possible, the university system advances several important goals, such as improving college access for students of all income levels, reducing the long-term debt of student loan borrowers, and helping South Dakota’s institutions compete for both in-state and out-of-state students. Combined, these goals are of tremendous importance to the state’s long-term economic prosperity.
Yet, college affordability is a complex issue, and has many moving parts. While a number of measures can be taken to keep college costs down, it is important to remember that universities’ finances face many upward pressures as well. Declining state appropriations, rising healthcare costs, the increasing scope of student support services, and mounting demands for regulatory compliance are among several factors that continue to spur – both in South Dakota and nationally – increases in the costs shouldered by students.
The SDBOR Public University Affordability Dashboard provides a tool for evaluating the affordability of South Dakota’s public universities in the broader national context. For several key indicators (tuition and fees, grant aid, total and net price, state appropriation revenue per FTE student, tuition and fee revenue per FTE student, graduate debt), the dashboard provides data for a base year, a recent year, and the change from past to present. Data can be queried – by state or by university – for most public four-year universities in the United States.
Based on the most recent data, several observations stand out with respect to affordability in South Dakota. Based on these trends, South Dakota’s competitive advantage with respect to the pricing of its public universities appears to be weakening.
- State appropriations per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student rose by only 11.4 percent in South Dakota from 2007-08 to 2017-18. Over the same period, revenues from tuition and fees (per FTE student) rose by a staggering 55.8 percent.
- Tuition and fee charges for in-state students rose by a greater magnitude in South Dakota (53.7 percent) from 2008-09 to 2018-19 than in any other neighboring state. Similarly, "total price" (tuition and fees plus room, board, books, supplies, and other expenses) grew by a similar percentage over the same period.
- Average grant aid rose by only 19.2 percent in South Dakota from 2008-09 to 2017-18, by far the smallest level of growth among neighboring states.
- From 2008-09 to 2017-18, South Dakota's "average net price" (total charges minus average grant aid) rose by 48.3 percent, the second-largest increase across neighboring states and among the largest increases in the nation. As of 2017-18, the state's average net price was approximately $1,200 more than that of the next-highest neighboring state, and exceeded the neighboring state average by more than $3,000.
Sources: NCES Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS); The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), College InSight. College-level student debt and undergraduate financial aid data © 2018 Peterson's, a Nelnet company, all rights reserved.
- Data are presented on an annual (“per academic year”) basis. The year range of each indicator is based on the availability of data.
- Analyzed institutions include all degree-granting, public four-year colleges and universities in the United States with the exception of tribal institutions, US service academies, and institutions with selected special-focus Carnegie classifications.
- TICAS graduate debt data reflect only a portion of all US universities. TICAS uses unaudited student debt data voluntarily supplied by postsecondary institutions to Peterson’s Undergraduate Financial Aid and Undergraduate Database. Debt figures reflect cumulative student loan debt of bachelor’s degree completers. “Average debt” indicators reflect the average loan debt of students with loans.
- Values are shown in nominal dollars (i.e., are not adjusted for inflation).
- “Tuition and fees” includes full-year charges to students for instructional services (tuition) and fixed sums charged to students for items not covered by tuition (fees). Calculations are based on first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students.
- “Average grant aid” is the average amount of federal, state, local, or institutional grant aid received by first-time, full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students.
- “Total price” reflects the full cost of attendance – including tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, board, and other expenses – for first-time, full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students living on campus.
- “Average net price” depicts the total cost of attendance minus the average amount of grant aid, and is intended to better reflect the actual cost of attending college each year. Calculations are based on first-time, full-time, degree-seeking, in-state undergraduate students who received any federal, state, local, or institutional grant aid.