Amid ongoing enrollment challenges, the presidents of North Dakota colleges made a plea to state officials Tuesday to respond to a program in Minnesota that they worry could lead to a loss of students, The Forum of Fargo-Moorehead reported.
The program—the North Star Promise—will offer free tuition to in-state families earning under $80,000 a year. North Dakota college presidents on the eastern side of the state fear that the program will deter Minnesota students from crossing the state line for college in North Dakota, potentially harming enrollment.
“This has catastrophic implications. This is a very serious situation for us,” North Dakota State University president David Cook told the State Board of Higher Education at a meeting Tuesday, noting that 52 percent of NDSU students come from Minnesota.
Cook suggested the state could consider a response in a special legislative session.
Mayville State University president Brian Van Horn noted that of the 1,100 students at his institution, more than 100 are Minnesotans who might benefit from the North Star Promise. “How many of those could we retain? That’s the big question,” Van Horn said.
College leaders worry that enrollment losses could lead to significant revenue declines next year. NDSU could lose up to $6.5 million in tuition, fees and a reduction of funding based on a state formula, while the University of North Dakota could see a loss of $4.6 million in the first year of the Minnesota program, according to estimates presented to the state board.