Why enrollment is declining at South Dakota public universities


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Enrollment at the six public universities in South Dakota is declining. School officials say there are a few reasons for the dropping numbers.

For students Rayanne Liester and Anna Fields, Dakota State University was the right choice when it comes to furthering their education.

“Ever since my sophomore year of high school, DSU had been choice number one, I toured it twice, I just always saw myself going here,” student Rayanne Liester said.

“I also love the class size, 20 to 30 students in a class lets you answer a lot of questions and it’s not as intimidating,” student Anna Fields said.

While these students are choosing a South Dakota college, there are some who aren’t.

“Our enrollment is declining,” president of the South Dakota Board of Regents, Kevin Schieffer said.

President of the Board of Regents, Kevin Schieffer says part of the decline could be due to needs based scholarships being nearly nonexistent in the state.

Dakota State University President José-Marie Griffiths agrees that there’s more the state could be doing.

“If there’s anything that we could do that could really help the situation in South Dakota, and give more students from South Dakota that opportunity, it would be needs based aid, it allows students to stay in state while they take their degrees, it allows them to find jobs in state,” Dakota State University President, José-Marie Griffiths said.

Something school officials believe could potentially bring more students like these to South Dakota.

“I love seeing all the people who are interested in cyber security, see new faces and get to know everyone,” Fields said.

The 2019 fall enrollment numbers show that the schools with the steepest declines were Black Hills State, the School of Mines and South Dakota State for head counts compared to fall of 2018.

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