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Fall enrollment at South Dakota public universities dips 3%
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Fall enrollment at South Dakota public universities dips 3%

Fall enrollment at South Dakota's six public universities fell 3% from last year, the state Board of Regents announced Friday.

The total number of full-time students that enrolled for class this fall is 25,303, down from around 26,100 at this time in 2018. Headcount at the universities totals 34,520, down 1,217 or 3.4% from last year.

Over all, full-time enrollment for the universities' fall semester has fallen in five of the last six years.

Only one of the institutions that the board governs saw a gain in enrollment: Dakota State University. The school reported that the number of full-time students totals approximately 2,062, up 1.26%. DSU's headcount, however, was down roughly 3.4% from 2018.

In a statement, Regents CEO Paul Beran said that many students — especially those who lack the financial means to attend college — may be choosing to enter the workforce instead of continuing their education. South Dakota "lacks a stable source of state-level, need-based financial aid," he said, adding that "in our work with the governor and state legislators, we'll continue to stress that such support is critical to make higher education a reality for more students."

The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology saw its full-time enrollment dip this fall by 41 or approximately 1.87% to around 2,156. Headcount totals figured at 2,529, down by 125 or about 4.71%.

Mines spokesman Mike Ray said the decline was expected due to the graduation of a large class of 2018. While headcount and full-time enrollment figures are down, he said that Mines is gaining in terms of female enrollment and in the number of graduate degrees awarded.

The number of graduate degrees awarded in 2010 was 57 compared to 131 so far this year, he said.

Black Hills State University saw its full-time enrollment dip by 126 or 4.76% to 2,520. The university's headcount totaled 3,858, down 177 or 4.39% from 2018.

Much of the decline can be attributed to a decrease in graduate student enrollment, according to a statement from BHSU. Graduate enrollment totaled 174 this year, down by 116 from 2018.

South Dakota's other public schools reported the following enrollment figures:

  • South Dakota State University's full-time enrollment dropped by 399 or 4% to 9,402. Student headcount fell by 589 or 4.86% to 11,518.
  • The University of South Dakota's full-time enrollment fell by 152 or 2% to 7,344. Student headcount fell by 146 or 1.45% to 9,920.
  • Northern State University full-time enrollment fell by 95 or 5% to 1,817. Student headcount fell by 66 or 1.89% to 3,427.

In August, South Dakota News Watch reported that the state's public university students pay an average of $4,000 more per year for their education than many of their peers across the country.

— Contact Matthew Guerry at

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