Why is South Dakota beating Minnesota on freshman import-export ratio? One logical explanation is price. According to the FY2014 Accountability Report to the Council on Higher Education Policy Goals, Performance, and Accountability that the Board of Regents will discuss at next week's meeting, South Dakota offers the best bargain on higher education in the region for out-state students:
South Dakota's the best deal in America's upper middle for non-resident undergraduates, resident graduate students, and non-resident graduate students. Oddly, we short our own resident undergraduates, who could go to school more cheaply by taking up residence in North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, or Nebraska.
This Regental report acknowledges that a higher percentage of South Dakota students graduate in debt than in 48 other states (only New Hampshire at 76% beats our 72%). But as demonstrated by our lower costs and remarkably low student-loan default rate, those students have more manageable debt. The same outfit that ranks us #2 for percentage of students in debt agrees, ranking our average student debt 29th in the nation.
p.s.: The Regents offer a separate report on graduate debt, which notes that the percentage of South Dakota public university students graduating with debt has declined from 84% in 2006 to 72% in 2013. South Dakota's private institution grads were following a similar arc through 2009 but then bounced back up above 80%.