Proposed bills would reduce spending on out-of-state college students

Published: Jan. 17, 2017 at 5:17 PM CST
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Unlike grade schools, a college's funding comes from tuition as well as state funds.

Most students who attend the state's 11 public colleges and universities have their education heavily subsidized, including students from out of state.

According to House Education Committee members, in-state tuition covers only about half the cost of educating a student.

Bismarck Republican Representative Rick Becker has introduced two bills that would limit the amount of money North Dakota taxpayers spend on out-of-state students attending the state's schools.

Across the state, many out-of-state students pay only slightly more, or even the same rate, as in-state students.

"It doesn't make sense to fill our halls, to fill the classrooms, to expand, to ask for appropriations for more buildings, when what we're bringing in isn't more North Dakota students, it's out of state students, subsidized by the North Dakota taxpayers, " says Becker.

His bill would put a price floor on tuition, ranging from 115 percent of in-state tuition for Minnesota students to 200 percent for students who don't fall under a reciprocity agreement.

"This bill in general would reduce the ability to adapt and respond to lots of different changes," says Mark Hagerott, North Dakota University System chancellor.

"NDSU, being on the east side of the state, naturally draws in a large portion of Minnesota residents, mostly due to our affordability factor. It is, in many of their words, a close school for a good education, with a great price," says Katie Mastel, NDSU student lobbyist.

Another bill would limit reciprocity agreements over the next 10 years. North Dakota would only be able to take in 1.5 students at a reduced rate per agreement for every student it sends to another state.

"We want to send our kid, we want you to send your kid, but there has to be somewhat of a balance," says Becker.

The Peace Garden State now takes in about three times as many students as it sends to other states under those agreements.

Both Haggerott and Mastel opposed limiting reciprocity as well, saying it also would limit flexibility throughout the system as well as endanger smaller programs North Dakota students use which rely on out-of-state attendance.