Bill would allow legislative assembly to set college tuition and fees

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Bismarck, ND – Some lawmakers want to take on the responsibility of setting college tuition costs instead of the Board of Higher Education.

Despite the state giving more money to higher education over the years, tuition costs continue to go up.

According to College Board, at a four-year state college or university in North Dakota, in-state students are paying on average around $8,600 this year. That number is almost double what it was from 15 years ago. Republican Representative Rick Becker (R-District 7) said that should not be the case.

“All across the nation, when other states are decreasing their appropriation and needing to increase tuition to off-set that. We were dramatically increasing appropriation and in the face of that, we were also increasing tuition and that makes no sense and it comes at the expense of the students,” Becker said.

Over that same time-frame when tuition nearly doubled, state appropriations went from about $387 million in the 2005 biennium to more than $625 million this past biennium.

So, Becker co-sponsored a bill that would give lawmakers the authority to set tuition and fees, not the board of higher education.

“Either we are going to give increase burden to our students by increasing tuition, or we’re going to give increased burden to the taxpayer by increasing appropriation to higher ed, but in no way should we be doing both. That’s just irresponsible,” he said.

The numbers haven’t continuously gone up throughout the years though. This past biennium, higher education was cut heavily.

Representative LaurieBeth Hager (D-District 21), a Democrat on the education committee, thinks it does not matter who sets tuition costs.

“Whether you’re on the state board of higher education, whether you’re an elected legislative member, I believe we want to keep the cost low,” she said.

She has concerns about the bill.

“Our legislative assembly meets every other year, so that is not enough flexibility for our colleges and universities to set their tuition rates,” she said.

The committee has yet to make a recommendation on the bill.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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