SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Board of Regents voted Wednesday to increase tuition and fees at the state's six public universities by an average of 3 percent next school year.

The hikes will raise the average cost of tuition and fees for undergraduate resident students by about $256 to roughly $8,870, up from $8,614. Regents President Bob Sutton said in a statement that the adjustment attempts to keep costs for students as low as possible.

The board cited employee salary increases and inflation in announcing the hikes. Tuition and fee setting is a "balancing act" between delivering services required by students and ensuring affordable access to higher education, Sutton said.

"All of this is done with the uppermost goal in mind: to deliver to our students the highest quality education possible," he said.

The increases are: 1.4 percent at Dakota State University; 1.5 percent at Black Hills State University and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology; 2.6 percent at Northern State University; 3.3 percent at the University of South Dakota; and 3.8 percent at South Dakota State University.

Trevor Gunlicks, a junior studying political science at South Dakota State University, said he has "mixed emotions" about the increases. Gunlicks said the funds could be put to good use if managed correctly, but said he's slightly disappointed to see the bump.

"As a student, it's not something you want to see. You don't want to see your tuition rates going up," he said. "I do, from my perspective, understand why they're doing it."

The board last year approved an average 2.9 percent increase for the current school year. Tuition rates were held flat for the 2016-17 academic year after Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the Legislature funded a tuition freeze for resident university students.

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