South Dakota ends college reciprocity, but MN students will pay less to go there

It’s been a given since 1978. A reciprocity agreement between Minnesota and South Dakota meant that college students crossing the state border would get a break in tuition and fees. But as competition for a declining pool of college students heats up, the South Dakota Border of Regents (BOR) has announced the end of the arrangement, starting in the summer 2024 term.

The regents’ decision occurred in December, but the reality has only started to hit home now with many students and families in the throes of deciding on a college. Yet the Dakota Scout says the change will actually pay off for Minnesotans who enroll on a campus across the border.

The shift is intended to attract Minnesotans to South Dakota universities, lowering tuition for Minnesota residents attending a South Dakota’s regental institutions by about $1,400 a year, according to BOR.

“By treating new Minnesota students just like students from the other surrounding states, it reduced the annual cost to new Minnesota students, keeping South Dakota competitive when considering overall cost of attendance, even for students who qualify for Minnesota’s new program,” BOR Vice President Jeff Partridge told The Dakota Scout Thursday.

The move comes following Minnesota’s establishment of the North Star Promise, a tuition-free program aimed at keeping students of families earning under $80,000 in state. On average some 3,400 Minnesota students attend college in South Dakota, compared to about 1,000 South Dakota students who enroll in Minnesota. South Dakota already offers in-state tuition to residents of several nearby states, according to the BOR website.

Offering competitive tuition rates to students in neighboring states has proven successful for BOR universities. By expanding the South Dakota Advantage rate, the system has seen enrollment growth that has exceeded expectations and generated additional tuition revenues. The new states will join Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming in the program.

“South Dakota Advantage allows our public universities to break down another barrier to entry and showcase everything South Dakota has to offer to attract our region’s best and brightest minds,” said BOR Executive Director Nathan Lukkes. “With South Dakota’s competitive price point, exceptional academic programs, and endless career opportunities, we’re confident we can help students achieve their dreams and build a fulfilling future in our state.”

Nearly 30 percent of out of state students remain in South Dakota following graduation, bolstering the state’s workforce.

These individuals bring the skills and knowledge required to fill high-demand roles in the healthcare, business, and technology industries. They also contribute to the growth of new businesses and start-ups, further strengthening the state’s economy. By retaining a talented and well-educated workforce, South Dakota can remain a leader in innovation and growth.

Students who already attend Minnesota and South Dakota colleges will be able to complete their studies under the reciprocity agreement. The University of Minnesota will also allow South Dakota students to enroll this fall under the reciprocity deal, given that some families have been caught by surprise over the program’s abrupt elimination.