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Optimistic enrollment figures shared by state Board of Regents

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The South Dakota Board of Regents confirms enrollment is up for this school year. Across the system, there are more than thirty-three thousand enrolled students in the six public universities.

One notable increase came in the form of first-time students – mostly incoming freshman.

Regents executive director Brian Maher said they’ve tallied a 6.3% increase.

“Last year that number was 4,8,98 incoming first-time students, and this year that number is 5,208 students, for an increase of 6.3% year-over-year," Maher said. "We’re excited about that number both for what it means this year, but also going forward as we double down on our retention efforts.”

Maher credits both an increase in the state’s high school graduation rate and efforts by universities in recruitment for the positive outlook.

“One is the quality the students see in our institutions, and two is our institutions are quickly becoming more affordable than they were in years past," Maher said. "This is the second year we’ve been flat in terms of tuition and fees. Looking forward the next year as we work with our legislature trying to make at least tuition flat again.” 

Enrollment was not up for all schools though, with South Dakota State down one-point-two percent and Black Hills State down three-point-two percent compared to 2021.

Laurie Nichols is president of Black Hills State. She said the school saw a drop in non-first-time students.

“We were down in transfer students pretty significantly this fall," Nichols said. "We were also down in graduate students, so those were two categories of students we lost this year compared to last year.”

Nichols says the incoming freshman class was on track with the other universities at six-point-four percent, and said she is confident the school will rebound.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering education, healthcare, arts and culture.