August 27, 2015

(STATS) - North Dakota State, whose football program has won a record four straight FCS national titles, announced Thursday the decision to provide full cost of attendance to scholarship student-athletes in its 16 sports beginning with the 2016-17 season.

Under the NCAA measure that went into effect Aug. 1, the cost of attendance of a scholarship can go beyond tuition, fees, books and room and board to include expenses such as academic-related supplies, transportation and other similar items. The five FBS autonomy conferences - the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC - pushed for the extra expenses, which are optional and can vary by school.

NDSU said its cost-of-attendance dollars will be up to $3,400 per full scholarship and are part of an initiative to be funded through private donations.

"NDSU has traditionally maintained a broad-based athletics program in which all student-athletes have access to a first-class education and the opportunity to annually compete for championships," athletic director Matt Larsen said. "With the ever-changing landscape of college athletics, providing the full cost of attendance will allow our student-athletes to focus primarily on their academic and athletic pursuits and our coaches to continue to recruit the best and brightest to North Dakota State University."

Cost-of-attendance dollars are considered an attractive recruiting tool - and perhaps a game-changer for the FCS level.

Among the 125 FCS schools, only Liberty preceded North Dakota State with full cost of attendance, beginning this year, and most programs are not expected to add them to their scholarships.

NDSU, which competes in the Missouri Valley Conference for football but the Summit League with most of its sports, has a storied athletic history. The football program has set the Division I record with four straight FCS national titles and is considered a candidate for a future move to the FBS level. Cost of attendance dollars would fit into such an equation.

The Bison will command the national spotlight Saturday when they visit Montana for the FCS Kickoff - the first game in all of college football.

With the addition of cost-of-attendance dollars, NDSU said it will increase scholarship support in baseball, men's golf, and men's track and field to bring all of its programs to their maximum scholarship limit, per NCAA regulations.

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