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Forum editorial: NDSU hike in tuition is justified

North Dakota State University's request for a modest tuition increase is not only justified, it's overdue. We say "modest" increase because, by comparison with similar universities, NDSU's tuition levels are not high. In fact, even with a propose...

North Dakota State University's request for a modest tuition increase is not only justified, it's overdue.

We say "modest" increase because, by comparison with similar universities, NDSU's tuition levels are not high. In fact, even with a proposed tuition hike of about 18 percent, NDSU will remain a very good value for students and their families.

Consider, for example, that if the University of North Dakota is granted its tuition rate hike (about 17 percent), NDSU's tuition will still be lower or equal to UND's. UND tuitions historically have been higher than NDSU's.

By the way, every campus in the state's University System is requesting approval of tuition increases ranging from 9 percent to 19 percent.

NDSU is not -- never has been -- a high-tuition campus. NDSU's undergraduate resident tuition and fees this academic year totaled $3,965, according to the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. By comparison, at South Dakota State the cost was $4,254. At the University of South Dakota, $4,205. At Minnesota State University Moorhead, $4,254 plus $294 per credit hour over 14. At the University of Montana, $4,014. At Minnesota State University St. Cloud, $4,577.

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Critics of NDSU are trying to make the case that tuition increases for NDSU are out of line. The vacuous contention is that the university's move to Division 1 in athletics is driving tuition increases. The facts indicate otherwise.

Funding for the change from D2 status to D1 mostly involves additional money for more scholarships. Those dollars are raised outside of university academic functions by such organizations as Teammakers and the Alumi Association, and thus have no effect on tuitions. Anyone familiar with the mechanisms of sports funding at NDSU would know that.

Moreover, the fact that each state campus (including the two-year schools) is seeking increases suggests the funding problem is a statewide phenomenon, caused in part by the failure of the Legislature to appropriate enough money for higher education. If there are North Dakotans out there who are upset about higher tuitions on state campuses, including NDSU, they should be talking to their legislators.

Finally, it simply costs more to run a modern university. Enrollments are up. New and necessary academic and research programs have been established. In order to keep class sizes manageable and in order to guarantee students access to the classes they need, more faculty and classroom space is needed.

The State Board of Higher Education will hear tuition rate increase requests this week at a Minot meeting. Most board members have been supportive of NDSU's evolution from a good but limited land-grant university into an exciting, expanding education and research institution. The change is providing more and more opportunities for North Dakota's undergraduates and graduate students. The campus is an economic engine that not only returns far more to every tuition-paying student than they invest, but also pays incalculable dividends to the region's economy.

Smart North Dakotans know what's going on at NDSU. They like what they see. They understand that few universities are as good an education value as is NDSU. A small tuition hike is justified.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board

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