Report: North Dakota universities slightly cheaper than regional counterparts

A student walks to class past Old Main at Mayville State in this Herald file photo from 2014. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
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The North Dakota University System’s affordability report shows the cost to attend a four-year university in the state may be slightly lower than in regional states.

The average tuition, fees, room and board for NDUS doctoral, masters and four-year universities is less than the regional peer institutions in 2019-20, following a trend over the last five years.

“These findings point toward positive outcomes on the State Board of Higher Education’s goal of providing affordable education to our students,” said NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott. “These positive metrics of affordability are a credit to the hard work of our faculty and staff for ensuring that higher education in the state remains accessible to all.”

In 2019-20, North Dakota’s two doctoral universities – UND and North Dakota State – were slightly lower than their regional counterparts. Average tuition and fees, not including room and board, came to $9,762; regionally, the costs were $9,806.


The state’s four-year regional public universities – Mayville State, Dickinson State and Valley City State – were also lower than similar regional universities at $7,280 and $7,903, respectively.

Minot State, classified as the state’s masters university, was much lower than its regional peers. Average tuition and fees were $7,244, compared to $9,495 regionally.

The two-year colleges for both categories of costs continue to trend above others in the region. North Dakota has five two-year colleges – Bismarck State, Lake Region, North Dakota State College of Science, Dakota College at Bottineau and Williston State. Their tuition and fees averaged $4,980 in 2019-20. Other regional two-year colleges averaged $4,294.

Regional comparisons include peer institutions from Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

The affordability report also showed an incremental increase in total student costs over the last five years. Estimated total student costs for 2019-20 range from $17,100 at two-year colleges to $23,600 at the doctoral universities. Doctoral universities saw an approximately $1,400 increase in total student costs from 2018-19. The regional universities had an $800 average increase from the previous year.


Tuition and mandatory fees comprised 29% to 41% of total costs. Room and board represent another 37% to 44% of total cost. The remaining costs consist of educational-related indirect expenses, including books, supplies, transportation and miscellaneous expenses. Actual costs may vary.

In 2018-19, the latest numbers in the report, 56% of all undergraduate students received some type of financial aid from one or more sources, which was slightly down from the prior year. At UND and NDSU, an average of 67% of students received some type of aid. The amount was 54% at regional, four-year universities and 38% at two-year colleges.

Nationally, 2017-18 National Center for Education Statistics data show that 58% of public two-year and four-year students receive some type of financial aid.

Additionally, state-funded grants and scholarships have grown significantly in the past 10 years

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.

For story pitches contact her at or call her at 701-780-1134.
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