If you weren’t aware, I have a daughter graduating high school this year. Of all my kids so far, she’s been the strongest academically and activity wise. Girls State, NHS, Honors classes, taking dual credits, etcetera.
One of the things she’s been pursuing for college -if she decides to go in-state – is South Dakota’s opportunity scholarship program. It’s a program that was brought about because South Dakota was one of the few states without a merit-based program.
When created, it was thought that it would provide incentives for students to challenge themselves, and take courses of sufficient rigor to fully prepare themselves for collegiate level work. It was a good trade off for South Dakota to have such a program, and provide a little benefit for going in-state. According to the opportunity Scholarship web site:
The South Dakota Legislature authorized the Regents Scholarship Program in 2003 to allow South Dakota’s most academically accomplished high school graduates to receive an affordable education at any university, college, or technical school in South Dakota that is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. In 2004, the Legislature renamed the scholarship the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship and authorized funding from the state of South Dakota’s Education Enhancement Trust Fund, beginning with high school graduating classes in 2004.
Starting this Fall 2015*, the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship provides up to $6,500 over four years to a qualifying student who attends an eligible higher education institution in South Dakota. Recipients may participate in the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship program for the equivalent of four academic years (eight consecutive fall and spring terms), or until attaining a baccalaureate degree. During each academic year, one-half of the annual scholarship award will be distributed at the beginning of the fall semester and the other half distributed at the beginning of the spring semester:
$1,300 — 1st year of attendance $1,300 — 2nd year of attendance $1,300 — 3rd year of attendance $2,600 — 4th year of attendance
These aren’t large rewards, but they are in the sense that these students generally don’t need remedial classes as many do coming into college.
But, what’s the use of having an incentive for college bound High School students if there wasn’t a Democrat trying to screw it up? As related at KCCR radio, State Senator Jason Frerichs – who isn’t a parent of a college student – is now deciding he wants to now punish kids for trying harder, by putting strings on the program that weren’t there when these kids were trying for it:
South Dakota Senator Jason Frerichs of Wilmot is bringing forward a bill that would require the scholarship recipients to stay in the state after graduation.
The state would give a waiver if the scholarship graduates go on to further education, but Frerichs says they want the recipients to come back.
He says that if the bill does pass, it would require the recipient to pay back the opportunity scholarship to the state if they decide to live out of state.
The thing is – the state already has tuition incentive programs of the nature he is proposing for areas of critical need. Teacher Loan Forgiveness, Dakota Corps Scholarships, loan repayment forgiveness programs for Physicians, Dentists, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners & Nurse Midwives, and others are available. Not to mention those going into the military.
Frerichs and his cohorts the Democrat caucus might want to incentivize retaining political science & women’s studies majors in South Dakota, but aside from messing with a scholarship program that was never designed with this in mind, what greater purpose does it serve?
If they want to retain these higher achieving kids in South Dakota, Democrats would be much better off spending their time making sure there are jobs for graduating students as opposed to attaching a ball and chain to a general scholarship program.
But then again, there’s a reason why Democrats are almost extinct in the state. Bad policies, and no vision.