Today’s Ask Your Government

Greetings Teri!!!!

Are public colleges and universities required to provide any transitional assistance to students enrolled in a program and the program is closing prior to their degree completion? I am thinking primarily of undergraduate students that may have two or three years invested towards a degree and will not be able to complete the degree on or at their home campus due to the program closing.

Transferring often results in some credits being lost and additional burdens due to higher expenses of housing, tuition, etc. at the transfer institution. Sometimes the exact major is not available at the home or transfer institution and a change of major may be necessary. This requires more time as an undergraduate. And time is money.

Is this situation different if the student were in a graduate program?

Matthew Mootz

Jamestown

Thanks for writing! I contacted the North Dakota University System. Lisa Johnson, director of articulation and transfer, provided this response:

“The decision to terminate an academic program of study requires thoughtful planning and careful consultation – particularly with students impacted by that decision.

“Typically, the institution will continue teaching the courses necessary for students currently enrolled in the program, then no longer admit students to the program and, finally, terminate the program.

“In some cases, the institution may contract with another educational institution to provide coursework that enables students to complete their program of study.”

University System spokeswoman Debra Anderson said anyone with questions can call the office directly “so that we can work with them to resolve their specific concerns. I know they will find our office to be very responsive.”

The number for the University System office is (701) 328-2960.

Do you have a question for a North Dakota state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail politics@wday.com (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505. Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification

Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear Teri,

Why are there tuition waivers? A waiver for ex-servicemen is understandable, but shouldn’t state students and taxpayers have equal concern?

Ardis Johnson

Jamestown

Thanks for writing! Here is what Laura Glatt of the North Dakota University System said:

“In the absence of waivers, NDUS [North Dakota University System] campuses would not be able to compete with other campuses across the country for students, including the best and brightest students for graduate and research programs.

“Other campuses use waivers as a recruitment mechanism for students. These graduate and research students contribute to the quality of the NDUS graduate programs and research by providing instruction to undergraduates and assisting with faculty research.

“Also, some remain in North Dakota following graduation, stimulating North Dakota’s economy by contributing to business and industry through their advanced education and knowledge and/or by creating new business start-ups.

“In fact, the North Dakota Legislature funded a program that specifically addresses increasing the number of graduate students in North Dakota for this very reason.

“Another example would be the need for the NDUS to attract a culturally diverse student population through waivers provided to Native Americans and international students who contribute to the cultural richness of the educational experience for all North Dakota students.

“The workplace no longer has physical boundaries, making it vitally important that North Dakota students graduating from a North Dakota campus have an educational experience that prepares them to be successful in a culturally diverse workforce.”

Do you have a question for a state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail politics@wday.com (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, N.D. 58505.

Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.

Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear readers,

One of my blog readers asked the following:

“For the past five years, how many dollars of tuition have been waived each year, and what percent is that of the total tuition that would have been charged for all students? Second question: What is the breakout of those tuition waivers between undergrad, master’s and doctoral students and by degree area? Again by year.”

Here’s what Laura Glatt of the North Dakota University System said:

“Earlier this year, the NDUS began producing a new report on waivers with substantially more detailed information. ((NOTE: The report that Glatt refers to can be found here: tuition report. She also passed along an updated report, which can be found here: recent tuition report)

“You will note that we do not collect information by level of instruction. However, you will note detailed information by campus, by residency category. Also, on page six you will find information related to different categories of waivers, including graduate student waivers. The report includes several interesting and generally surprising facts, including:

“1.) While the NDUS provided tuition discounts of $27 million during 2008-09, the students receiving a tuition discount still paid campuses over $16 million in tuition, almost $10 million in on-campus housing and meal plans, and over $6 million in mandatory fees, for total payments to the institutions of over $33 million. (Chart 1).

“2.) Of the total 50,823 headcount degree-credit students enrolled in the NDUS in 2008-09, approximately 15% (7,707 students) received a full or partial tuition discount, while the remaining 85% received no discount at all. Of the 15.2% that received a discount, 4.5% (2,283 students) received a full discount, while the remaining 10.6% (5,424 students) received a partial discount (partial discount can range from 1 to 99% of the posted tuition charge.) (Chart 2, section D)

“3.) Over half (52%) of all full and partial discounts are provided to North Dakota residents (4,027), 24% to in-country nonresidents (1,804), and 24% to international students (1,876). (Chart 5)

“Here is the amount of waivers for each of the past five years as you requested:

04-05               $20.3 million

05-06               $22.2 million

06-07               $23.7 million

07-08               $24.1 million

08-09               $27.3 million

“A large portion of the rate of increase over this period of time can be attributed to tuition rate increases. As tuition rates increase, so does the amount of any waiver.”

Do you have a question for a North Dakota state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail politics@wday.com (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, N.D. 58505.

Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.

Gephardt to speak at Great Plains Energy Expo

BISMARCK – Former presidential candidate Dick Gephardt is a keynote speaker Tuesday at the Great Plains Energy Expo and Showcase here.

The event begins Monday at the Bismarck Civic Center Exhibition Hall. Other featured speakers include Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.; Clarence Cazalot, president and CEO of Marathon Oil; Arun Majumdar, director of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency; and retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Charles Wald.

“This is a great lineup of energy leaders who will provide important insight to our discussion about how we boost domestic energy production, reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign energy, continue to reduce emissions and provide more clean energy jobs at home,” Dorgan said in a statement.

“I’m encouraging everyone in the region interested in energy issues to attend this premier event and hear from these world-class speakers.”

Keynote presentations and exhibitor showcases are open to the public. Registration for workshops and more information about the event can be found at www.bismarckstate.edu/gpee.

Legislative week ahead

Four state legislative committees are scheduled to meet this week as lawmakers begin wrapping up their interim work.

  • The Water-Related Topics Overview Committee meets at 9 a.m. Monday in the Roughrider Room in the Capitol.
  • The Employee Benefits Programs Committee meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Harvest Room in the Capitol. The committee will discuss bill drafts related to the Teachers’ Fund for Retirement and the Public Employees Retirement System.
    Lawmakers will also hear a bill draft related to Public Employees Retirement System medical benefits coverage for autism spectrum disorders.
  • The Budget Section meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Senate chamber. Lawmakers will hear about the status of the general fund.
    They will also hear a presentation by the University of North Dakota regarding a request to use $220,000 of unrestricted gift funds as local matching funds for the O’Kelly Hall renovation project.

    There will also be a presentation by representatives of the North Dakota University System regarding the status of the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences Bismarck Center for Family Medicine capital project.

    Lawmakers will also hear about the status of the Veterans’ Home construction project.

  • The Public Safety and Transportation Committee meets at 9 a.m. Thursday in the Roughrider Room in the Capitol. The committee will hear a report regarding the use of state, federal, emergency and other highway funding.
    Lawmakers will also discuss bill drafts related to oil-impact-related infrastructure development grants and appropriations from the permanent oil tax trust fund to the highway tax distribution fund and state highway fund.

Complete agendas can be found at www.legis.nd.gov/council/interim/meetings.

Youth suicide webinars

Three experts on youth suicide will be featured this fall in a series of webinars from Well Aware, a national prevention program for school administrators and education policymakers.

The webinars discuss school-based strategies for suicide prevention, information on helping youth who lost a peer to suicide, and crisis response for schools and communities in the wake of a youth dying by suicide.

The webinars are offered from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, Oct. 12 and Nov. 3.

Participants can register at www.wellawaresp.org/webinars.php. The webinars are free and open to adults who interact with or influence policy affecting youth.

Legislative week ahead

The Higher Education Committee and Higher Education Roundtable members will meet Monday and Tuesday in the House Chamber. Monday’s agenda begins at 9 a.m. CT and includes out-of-state speakers discussing higher education funding.

There will also be discussion regarding potential goals and expectations of the North Dakota University System, including methods to measure success in achieving the goals.

Tuesday’s agenda begins at 8:30 a.m. CT. The meeting includes roundtable discussion regarding higher education topics discussed at previous Higher Education Committee meetings.

There will also be a presentation by a representative of the University System of the 2009 Accountability Measures Report.

Also Tuesday, the Administrative Rules Committee meets at 9 a.m. CT in the Roughrider Room of the state Capitol. The meeting includes presentations by the Attorney General’s Office, State Gaming Commission, state Health Department, Game and Fish, the Board of Pharmacy and the Public Service Commission.

On Wednesday, the Workers’ Compensation Review Committee meets at 9 a.m. CT in the Harvest Room of the state Capitol. Meanwhile, the Taxation Committee meets at 9 a.m. in the Roughrider Room in the Capitol.

On Thursday, the Energy Development and Transmission Committee meets at 9 a.m. CT in the Roughrider Room in the Capitol. Also Thursday, the Judicial Process Committee meets at 9 a.m. CT in the Harvest Room in the Capitol.

Full meeting agendas can be found at www.legis.nd.gov/council/interim/meetings.

Today’s story 2

BISMARCK – North Dakota lawmakers spent part of a Monday meeting expressing their frustration with the state university system while others defended it.

Higher Education Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Skarphol, R-Tioga, said he feels a need for change in higher education and said there’s public frustration about increasing costs and lack of accountability.

Skarphol said there may need to be a group created similar to the K-12 Commission on Education Improvement that addresses improving higher education.

“To simply add more money to continue to do what we’ve been doing and hope for different results is not good enough in my mind,” he said. “We need to change the culture somehow, both in the Legislature and in the higher education system altogether.”

Sen. Dave Nething, R-Jamestown, cautioned against indicting everything in higher education. He said the concerns he hears are specific to the construction of the presidents’ homes at North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota.

“I really would hate to think this committee wants to come out and say that higher education is all gloom and doom because I don’t think it is,” he said.

Rep. Mark Dosch, R-Bismarck, expressed concern about the spending requests for major capital projects at the state’s campuses. The North Dakota University System presented lawmakers with a list of 12 projects totaling $108 million.

“Where does it stop? Every session, this is what we get. It’s just more and more,” Dosch said.

Sen. Larry Robinson, D-Valley City, said issues with capital improvements are being allowed to drive the agenda.

“We have failed to provide focus on all of the good things that are happening in the system. Those things never get the press,” he said.

Chancellor Bill Goetz said much of what has driven the university system in recent years is accountability measures created by legislation. He said the university system needs the support of lawmakers and hopes future meetings can be approached as a community working together.

Also Monday, legislators heard an update about the statewide longitudinal data system. The goal is to track students’ educational progress over time to improve educational processes and programs, said Lisa Feldner, chief information officer for the state Information Technology Department.

Nething said 30 percent of incoming college students need remedial education, particularly in science, technology, engineering and math. He wondered whether information gathered in the system would help identify the school districts where these students originate.

Lawmakers also heard an update on UND’s RuralMed program. Eight incoming freshmen medical students who sign up for the program can receive a full tuition waiver for four years of medical school if they practice in rural North Dakota for five years after completing residency training.

However, thus far, three students have signed up, said Joshua Wynne, dean of the medical school. Discussions have found students are interested but are leery of committing before they’ve had an opportunity to experience more schooling, Wynne said.

He told legislators he’d like to see the program modified so empty slots can be offered to students closer to completing the program who are thinking more seriously about career choices.

The Higher Education Committee will meet again next month to continue discussion of potential legislation.