Thursday, October 2, 2014

N. Dakota may provide free college with oil money

Free tuition in North Dakota? (photo: Valley News Live)
Free tuition in North Dakota? (photo: Valley News Live)

North Dakota Considers Using $5 Billion in Oil Revenue to Provide Free College Education to Residents

By Neil Carlson, Valley News Live
01 October 14

ould free college tuition for students be in North Dakota's future?

The State's oil revenue is already funding hundreds of millions of dollars of new building projects across the State's University System. But, it's not reducing the cost of student's education. However, there's now talk of changing all that.

UND highlighted its progress at a breakfast for 350 Chamber of Commerce members today.

Robert Kelley, UND President: “This year I want to talk about an exceptional UND… sharing the excitement.”

Six major building projects worth nearly a quarter of a billion dollars are underway on campus, including a new, 125-million dollar med school, law school addition, high performance sports center and more.

In fact, there are large projects going on at Universities across the State, because of the large inflow of oil revenue. However, none of that revenue is being used to reduce or even eliminate tuition for students.

Oil revenue is expected to reach nearly 5-billion dollars a year, by 2015. Naturally, students wouldn't mind if it was used to pay their nearly five-thousand dollar a semester tuition bill.

Student: “I'd love it. I think it would be great.”

Student: “That would be nice.”

Student: “It would be awesome. How do I sign up for that?”

And now, it appears there could be run at legislators to start spending some of that oil revenue on student tuition.

Robert Kelley, UND President: “The State of Wyoming has done that in their Hathaway program and I think states can make investments in their students for the future. So, perhaps that will come up in our legislative session. We have some leadership from other states in these areas and it might be the right time for North Dakota.”

It remains to be seen whether North Dakota Legislators believe college students should get a free ride on oil revenue. We contacted Governor Jack Dalrymple's office and Interim University Chancellor, Larry Skogen to see if they'd support cutting or eliminating college tuition with oil money. We haven't heard back.

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