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Price tag for need-based scholarships would pass $10 million in three years

PIERRE -- The Legislature would need to spend $3.8 million the first year to cover the first round of additional need-based scholarships for university and technical institute students in South Dakota, an official from the state Board of Regents ...

PIERRE - The Legislature would need to spend $3.8 million the first year to cover the first round of additional need-based scholarships for university and technical institute students in South Dakota, an official from the state Board of Regents said Tuesday.

Legislators would need to find more than $10 million annually starting in the third year, according to Paul Turman, the regents' vice president for academic affairs.

South Dakota has a relatively small need-based program now that is funded with about $196,000 distributed among 222 students.

Turman presented results from a study that estimated the lowest average costs for one year taking 30 credits of courses from a state university at $19,767 and a public technical institute at $15,568 in South Dakota.

He delivered the numbers in a report to the state Board of Education.

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On a yearly basis, the student would be expected to contribute $7,814 to $9,814, with the money raised through summer full-time and school-year part-time employment, plus loans.

The student's family contribution would be in the neighborhood of $10,000, with possibly PELL or other federal grant assistance for those students whose family household incomes qualify.

A state-funded scholarship would then help cover the remainder.

Turman said $10.3 million would cover the need scholarships for about 6,000 students.

The state-funded Opportunity scholarships for students with strong academic records in math and science in high school currently cost about $3.3 million for 1,079 students at state-funded institutions.

Several Board of Education members told Turman they hope the funding stays separate for the Opportunity scholarships and the need-based scholarships.

"One of my hopes would be the Opportunity scholarship is excluded from the state-needs part," said Don Kirkegaard, the Meade school district's superintendent. He is the state board's president.

Kirkegaard said the Opportunity program has been instrumental in encouraging school districts to offer the extra years of math and science courses needed for students to qualify.

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"Plus it's the students who did the work to get that," board member Glenna Fouberg of Aberdeen, a retired teacher, said about the Opportunity scholarships

Turman said school districts might "slip" on availability of higher math and science courses if Opportunity scholarships don't remain a stand-alone program.

"We have to find a way for both of these mechanisms to work in tandem," Turman said.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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