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HB 1012 Simplifies Resident Tuition Rules… and Helps South Dakotans Find Spouses!

The South Dakota Board of Regents wants to make it easier to pay in-state tuition... or maybe just reduce its paperwork. House Bill 1012 makes three main changes in determining who qualifies for the lower rate.

First, HB 1012 erases the conditions on granting resident status to South Dakota high school graduates. Currently, our high school graduates must be residents of the state and live with a resident parent or guardian when they graduate, have a parent or guardian who's lived here continuously since graduation, and enroll in the Regental system no later than seven years after graduation. HB 1012 says nuts to all that: if you graduate from a South Dakota high school, you get to pay in-state tuition, no matter where else you and your folks have lived and no matter how long you wait to come to SDSU, USD, etc.

Next, the Regents seek to promote marriage. Really. Under current rules, marrying a South Dakotan is one factor the Regents will consider in granting resident status. HB 1012 makes marriage sacred: you marry a South Dakotan, you are a resident, period. Fellas, watch out for those Minnesota girls; under HB 1012, they may just be looking for cheap tuition!

The final change deals with students still being supported by their parents. Currently, if students are still supported by their parents, we determine these "unemancipated" students' residency by the parents' residency until the students turn 21. HB 1012 amends that age to 24. This provision appears to recognize the longer time it's taking students to graduate and stand on their own feet. This provision may also make it harder for older students to qualify for resident status: you fourth- and fifth-year students may be renting an apartment in town, but if Mom and Dad are still paying your way and they live in Iowa, you're not a resident. (Consider marriage!)

All three provisions at least simplify the rules and the paperwork for the Regents and students applying for resident status. We can have a separate debate about just how many students the Regents ought to be admitting to our fair university system. But once students are in, it doesn't hurt to make it simpler to figure out how much they are going to pay... and to welcome a few more in as full-fledged South Dakotans.