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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

State universities address affordability amid concerning forecasts

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Monday, December 18, 2023   

States like North and South Dakota are in a fierce battle to keep college affordable as public schools navigate the ebbs and flows of enrollment trends.

Researchers tracking high-school graduation data predict smaller class sizes within the next few years. That could mean fewer seniors filling out college applications.

The South Dakota Board of Regents has taken notice and last week, it approved offering in-state tuition rates to more nearby states - including Kansas, Minnesota and Missouri.

Board Executive Director Nathan Lukkes said while enrollment has rebounded at South Dakota schools, they know challenges lie ahead.

"There are just going to be less high school graduates to compete for, across the region and the country," said Lukkes. "Regionally, you're going to see universities and states stepping up their game to try to be more competitive."

He pointed to Minnesota's recent adoption of its North Star Promise Scholarship program, which will make tuition free at public colleges and universities for families earning less than $80,000 a year.

In response, North Dakota leaders are eyeing a similar approach, and North Dakota State University just announced its own free tuition program for Minnesota and in-state students.

Researchers also note high schools are graduating more diverse groups of students, presenting opportunities for college recruiters. Lukkes said it's happening in larger cities in his part of the country.

"You know, we're seeing a growth in underrepresented, first-generation populations," he added.

As they expand recruitment, Lukkes said it's important for schools and policymakers to enhance resources for students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

As for South Dakota's efforts, the Board of Regents says between 2018 and 2023, it saw a 20% enrollment increase in students from other states that were part of its initial rollout for competitive tuition rates.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.




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