PoliGraph: Dayton tuition claims can be read two ways

Editor’s Note: This replaces a previous post that contained incomplete information leading to a “false” rating. Other sources show the governor can make a case for his comments based on averages, which was not clear from his original statement.

Gov. Mark Dayton gave his first State of the State address Wednesday, so over the next few days we’ll take a look at some of his statements. In the speech, Dayton argued that Minnesota isn’t doing enough to support public schools.

In higher education, he said a decline in state investment has translated to higher tuition in two-and-four year universities.

“Tuition in our state’s two-year public colleges has risen to the third-highest in the nation; tuitions in our four-year universities are among the top-ten highest.”

Dayton’s statement is misleading.

The Evidence

No single Minnesota school ranks that high, but on average they do.

The University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities ranks 40th out of 598 four-year public universities in in-state tuition, and 278th in out-of-state tuition, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The U also isn’t among the most expensive schools in the country when you factor fees and room and board.

The most expensive two-year Minnesota school is Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, Minn., which charges $5,298 a semester, and ranks 28th among two-year public colleges, according to the publication.

However, Dayton’s office sent us studies that calculated averages for four-and-two year public institutions.

A report by the CollegeBoard Advocacy and Policy Center puts Minnesota’s four-year public school average tuition fee of $8,665 in 10th place. And Minnesota’s average community college tuition of roughly $4,700 ranked third.

So, when it comes to averages, Minnesota’s at the top of the pack. When it comes to individual schools, Minnesota’s well out of the top 10.

The Verdict

There’s more than one way to look at the cost of the higher education. Dayton was using averages in his speech, but he didn’t make that clear. This PoliGraph test is misleading.


Gov. Mark Dayton’s State of the State speech, Feb. 9, 2011

The Chronicle of Higher Education, Tuition and Fees, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, Public two-year schools, accessed Feb. 9, 2011

The Chronicle of Higher Education, Tuition and Fees, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, Pubic four-year schools, accessed Feb. 9, 2011

CollegeBoard study of average costs

Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board annual study


The Humphrey School