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Moorhead tries tuition break idea

While in-state students at Minnesota State University Moorhead will pay higher tuition this year than ever before, out-of-state students will pay considerably less.

While in-state students at Minnesota State University Moorhead will pay higher tuition this year than ever before, out-of-state students will pay considerably less.

As part of a four-year pilot program beginning this fall, nonresident students attending MSUM will pay the resident-tuition rate.

It's a move that initially could cost the university about $135,000, but MSUM President Roland Barden said it ultimately will result in more students and, consequently, more money for the university.

"It's a small investment to build the campus," Barden said. "It will be worth it."

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees approved the out-of-state tuition waiver in May. At the same time, the board approved an almost 10 percent increase in resident undergraduate tuition. A full-time MSUM student this year will pay about $3,155 in tuition.


State-to-state reciprocity agreements will remain in effect, however, meaning students from South Dakota, North Dakota and Wisconsin will not be eligible for the tuition waiver.

In order to qualify, a student must be a U.S. citizen, meet regular admission standards and remain in good standing academically.

Barden said MSUM could double, even triple the enrollment of nonresident, non-reciprocity students as a result of the change. He requested the waiver last spring after conferring with the University Academic Policy Advisory Committee and the Student Senate.

Both groups backed the president, even the in-state students, whose tuition happens to be going up, said Peter Hartje, MSUM Student Senate president.

"We decided that the overall growth of the university was more important," Hartje said. "We hope it brings a more diverse student population."

Data from the fall of 2001 shows that out of about 6,252 full-time undergraduate students enrolled at MSUM, 262 were classified as nonresident, nonreciprocity students.

A large portion of these were international students, resulting in 152 students who were U.S. residents from 34 different states outside of the reciprocity area.

Current policies of the Board of Trustees set several conditions by which these students can get a waiver of out-of-state tuition.


Of 7,436 total students last fall, just 45 full-time students actually paid the non-resident, non-reciprocity tuition rate.

"We don't have a lot of people from outside the area," Barden said. "Our goal is build a basis to recruit students from further away."

For the first time, MSUM will visit college fairs in the Milwaukee and Chicago markets, despite the fact that Wisconsin students still will pay slightly more than other students under the new plan.

Wisconsin's reciprocity agreement calls for a tuition rate between that of a resident and a non-resident.

Based on summer 2002 statistics, a Wisconsin undergraduate student would pay $149 per credit, while a Minnesota student would pay $128. An out-of-state student would pay $233 per credit.

The tuition-waiver pilot program will be in effect for at least four years. At that time, MSUM administrators will look at the data and determine whether to continue.

"We hope this will primarily have its influence on our undergraduate enrollment," Barden said. "We're optimistic about this and feel that it will help us down the line."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Jo Almquist at (701) 241-5531

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