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Higher Education Hit By Budget Cuts

March 31, 2010, 6:18 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

ABERDEEN, SD - With the state budget approved, it looks like universities will have to make cuts and tuition and fees will rise. Now it's just a matter of how much.

The Board of Regents met Wednesday for the first time since learning the state is cutting millions of dollars of its funding.

The regents' executive director told the board that the state cut about $4.3 million from its general budget. That will trickle down to state schools. It also took other cuts to specifically targeted programs. Altogether, the cuts total $7 million.

"We did certainly take a disproportionate set of cuts relative to the rest of state government," Regents’ executive director Jack Warner said.

The regents will take the next couple weeks to process numbers but expect to implement both a rise in tuition and cuts on campuses. Warner says they'll come up with specific numbers in time for a special meeting on April 15.

"We wanted some adequate time to digest the impact of these cuts and our response to them," Warner said.

Northern State University President James Smith says the cuts aren't quite the worst case scenario but they're certainly more than he hoped for.

"They're real programs; they're real people; they're real projects that we're not going to be able to fund because of the reduction of the dollars we have from the legislature," Smith said.

Campuses will have an obvious adjustment but so will others served by programs targeted in budget cuts. Cooperative Extension Services is losing $200,000 and there are others under the Board of Regents' control who took a bigger hit.

"We've done maybe more than our fair share this year. But maybe when it gets spread over a 2 to 3 year period of time, things get equated," regent Terry Baloun said.

A few weeks ago we told you about a program on the chopping block that hires college students to help with technology. It didn't get eliminated but did take a $270,000 cut.

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