OUR VIEW: Increasing Opportunity Scholarship will benefit students and South DakotaThe director of the state Board of Regents says he wants to “significantly” increase a scholarship that we see as instrumental in making college more affordable.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
The director of the state Board of Regents says he wants to “significantly” increase a scholarship that we see as instrumental in making college more affordable.
During a meeting with this newspaper’s editorial board, Jack Warner was asked about the Opportunity Scholarship, specifically, whether the grant should be increased to better reflect its purchasing power in the 2010s and beyond.
Warner said plans are under way to move the Opportunity Scholarship from $5,000 per student to $7,500. Doing so would cost about $2.2 million.
Warner later said he isn’t sure what the final number will be, but that he still does plan to ask Gov. Dennis Daugaard to include an increase in the governor’s annual state budget outline.
This is good news for South Dakota students and even good news for South Dakota itself.
Two years ago, it was reported that South Dakota leads the nation in the percentage of students leaving college with debt.
Earlier this year, it was reported that tuition and fees for 30 credit hours for the 2012-13 school year will cost a resident undergrad at a state school between $7,320 and $8,406. That’s more than resident students pay in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, and more than several state campuses in Nebraska and Minnesota.
Prices sure aren’t going down. As financial times have worsened in South Dakota, lawmakers have pulled the belt a little tighter. College fees have gone up, and individual college students are just expected to pay up.
So, what will happen?
Might the number of college students in South Dakota actually begin to level off, or even drop? Perhaps, and that potential dumbing-down of our general populace would be detrimental to the state.
Might the number of students who leave the state for college rise? Perhaps, and that outmigration is the last thing South Dakota needs.
Might the larger tuition burden be financially ruinous to some students? Perhaps, and that’s no way to send a graduate into the workforce.
College students have shouldered enough of a burden in South Dakota, and they could use a break.
Substantially increase the Opportunity Scholarship. Doing so will not only relieve some of the financial troubles that face South Dakota students, but also might motivate more students to qualify for the grant.
Either way, South Dakota wins.