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SIOUX CITY | The University of South Dakota in Vermillion will offer first-year and transfer students from the state of Nebraska the opportunity to pay the in-state tuition amount.

The pilot program for Nebraska students was approved by the South Dakota Board of Regents, according to a USD press release Thursday.

“Nebraska enrollment continues to be an important part of USD’s enrollment given that we are only seven miles from the Nebraska border," said Scott Pohlson, vice president of enrollment, marketing and university relations.

“This decision by the Board of Regents supports our goal of keeping USD competitive in Nebraska now and into the future.”

Pohlson said a similar pilot program has worked well in drawing Iowa students. He said USD officials want to offer a "quality education at an affordable price."

"With tuition, fees, room and board at $16,000 per year, I think the message is starting to resonate, which is great for USD’s future both in Iowa and hopefully Nebraska as well,” Pohlson said.

Scores of Northwest Iowa students have seized the opportunity to save several thousand dollars by enrolling at USD over the last two years.

Starting with the 2016-2017 school year, the South Dakota Board of Regents has allowed new freshmen and transfer students from Iowa to be eligible for the same tuition rate as South Dakota residents at USD and three other public universities.

The added incentive contributed to a 67 percent increase in Iowans attending USD. The number jumped from 244 in the 2016-17 academic year to 311 this fall.

Overall, USD's total enrollment rose 2.2 percent to 10,261 students, the second-highest mark for the fall semester in college history.

With its proximity, USD has long attracted students from Northwest Iowa to its main campus in Vermillion, about a 10-minute drive to the border for the two states.  But the number of Iowans enrolling at USD had dropped off in recent years as Iowa's three public universities heightened their focus on keeping more students in the state.

Excluding room and board, USD's tuition and fees for South Dakotans and new Iowa students is $8,772 for the 2017-18 school year, about $3,200 less than out-of-state tuition.

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County and education reporter

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