SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — President Joe Biden has announced a new $1.8 trillion plan that would, among other things, provide two years of free community college for all Americans. But South Dakota could miss out.
This is because, according to Janelle Toman, Director of Communications for the Board of Regents, South Dakota has no state community college system. When asked why this is the case, Toman said it has to do with the fact that the state already has two-year technical institutions, run by the South Dakota Board of Technical Education, as well as six state universities.
Toman says the state’s four-year institutions fulfill a sort of ‘pseudo community college’ role by offering two-year associate degrees. Despite this, she says that the Board of Regents sees “very limited application of ‘free community college’ proposals to our public (4-year) university system in South Dakota.”
A report compiled in 2014 for the Nevada Legislative Committee to Conduct an Interim Study Concerning Community Colleges shows that most states have some form of state community college system, be it governed by the state or simply acting in coordination with it.
Options for such systems include a community college system fully operated by the state, a system governed jointly by the state and a board of regents, state coordination with locally governed community colleges, and even four-year institutions with their own two-year branches.
While Sioux Falls does host an institution called the Community College for Sioux Falls (CCSF), according to the Board of Regents, it is not accredited as a community college.
Michelle Cwach, Assistant Vice President of Marketing Communications and University Relations at the University of South Dakota, says CCSF is part of the university and would not be considered a community college.
One area where South Dakota’s college students could see benefit however is at Tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). Biden’s proposal calls for investments to make college more affordable for low- and middle-income students, including students at TCUs.
According to ‘The American Families Plan’ fact sheet provided by the White House, Tribes could receive grants to provide funding to colleges that adopt innovative, proven solutions for student success.
Such solutions include wraparound services ranging from child care and mental health services to faculty and peer mentoring; emergency basic needs grants; practices that recruit and retain diverse faculty; transfer agreements between colleges; and evidence-based remediation programs.