Fall enrollment at South Dakota public universities down 3 percent

KELOLAND.com Original

S.D. (KELO) – We reached out to Dakota State University and Northern State University for their reaction to the recent fall enrollment numbers. NSU had the largest drop in full-time equivalent students.

“We did not hit our goal on that and so what we’re currently doing is analyzing where we fell short. We believe a lot of it has to do with continuing students so those sophomore to junior, junior to senior type students, those who traditionally continue year after year, we saw an abnormally large group not come back this year,” Northern State University Director of Communications and Marketing, Justin Fraase, said.

As far as the reasoning behind the decline, Fraase had this to say:

“I think there are multiple factors. For one, it very well could be the state of economy. The other that we truly believe is likely a factor is going to be the gap between those who can afford and those who cannot afford. We definitely support the board of regents and their endeavor to get a Dakota’s promise need based scholarship in the state,” Fraase said.

Fraase says the university did see a growth in its freshman class. However, he says the college has a lot of work to do.

“We want to do better and we know that we have to do better for our community, for our university and for our state,” Fraase said.

On the other hand, DSU had growth in full-time equivalent students.

“We are seeing a faster growth in the technology related programs because the number of jobs is expanding and people are attracted into that,” Dakota State University President, José-Marie Griffiths, said.

She says she believes overall enrollment is down throughout the state because some people can’t afford college.

“We do offer scholarships, we always would like to offer more. As I’ve indicated we offer merit-based scholarships, and we’d like to start offering more need-based scholarships. So that we can encourage students to come here so they don’t have to leave the state in order to go to college,” Griffiths said.


12:27 PM – Overall, the six public universities in South Dakota are down in enrollment. The headcount for each university has declined more than 1%.

Dakota State University was the only university to see an increase in full-time equivalent by 1.26%.

When looking at enrollment dating back to 1999, the last two years have been the biggest drop in headcount and full-time equivalent in the South Dakota Public University System.


9:26 AM – The newest enrollment numbers at South Dakota’s six public universities are down three percent, the Board of Regents announced Friday. 

The total headcount at the six universities was 34,520, down 1,217 from the year before. Full-time equivalent students for Fall 2019 was down 789.1 students for a total of 25,303,8. In 2018, the number was 26,092.9. 

Dakota State University was the lone university to report growth with full-time students.  

Paul Beran, executive director and CEO of the board of regents, pointed to South Dakota’s low unemployment rate and strong job market as reasons for the decline in numbers. He called on the Governor and state legislators to help make higher education in South Dakota more affordable.

Enrollment at Northern State, Black Hills State and South Dakota State all dropped more than four percent. 

KELOLAND News will have more reaction and coverage from the latest enrollment numbers online and on-air.

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