Frerichs proposes to punish high school students for trying harder.

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.

Scholarship Amounts

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.

Read it here.

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.

9 thoughts on “Frerichs proposes to punish high school students for trying harder.

  1. Platonic

    Boy, reminds me of my time in high school. I, too, decided to buckle down and put in the work for that Opportunity Scholarship only to find in my senior year that one Governor Daugaard slashed the amounts in half as part of his draconian “there’s-no-budget-problem-oh-wait-yes-there-is” runaround in the 2010 election.

    Real advice to follow; explanation below

    Tell your daughter to apply to out-of-state private schools. Though their sticker prices are high, they are the ones with the endowments large enough to afford meaningful financial aid and incentives for potential students much unlike the schools in our neighborhood.

    Plus, as South Dakotans have a lower cost of living and, therefore, lower average income relative to other places in the country, our students are poised to get some nice financial aid packages.

    And being from South Dakota, given our small numbers, oftentimes gives applicants a leg up in the diversity category. Make sure she focuses on her upbringing in the state as part of her essay.

    And if she’s conservative-minded, a lot of those schools on the coast would do well to get some new opinions floating around. She will have to be quick and bold in arguments and dialog, but it doesn’t sound like that will be much of a problem.

    I started off this comment a bit miffed at your tone, but realized while writing that, unfortunately, our state doesn’t do enough to incentivize it’s students to stay to the point where we now ponder forcing them to stay. That isn’t the answer. We need to make South Dakota someplace opportunities scholars want to live, not have to live.

    So I decided instead to post some actual college application advice. Take it as you will. Being a recent college grad, I wish somebody would have clued me in to the above.

    In all, your daughter sounds ready to go out and do great things wherever life takes her and, though I’m sure you don’t need a commenter to remind you, you should be proud. Congrats

  2. Anonymous

    I am pretty sure businesses that offer tuition at trade schools expect something in return as does the US Army and other branches of the military in return for education funding.

    Frerichs needs to flesh this out a little but I am not against expecting something from SD Students in return.

    I’m also quite certain that Daugaard had scholarship strings attached for his HB 1234 proposal in 2012 in order to recruit certain teachers.

  3. PlanningStudent

    I would like to see how many of the recipients have left the state after graduation in the past few years, that received this scholarship. Did they come back again after getting married or having their 1st born?

    Maybe a new incentive rather than changing this one. After four years of continuous residency after graduation you then get a check of a couple grand to pay down your loans. Could apply to any graduate of a regental school whether they were a resident before college or not…

    Then begs the question, should everyone not receive a check for being a resident? What if someone stays here or moves here and doesn’t go to college but is still a productive member of society, working for a local business, or starting a local business, paying taxes, buying a house…

  4. Troy Jones

    Three points:

    1) The taxpayers already invested in this South Dakotan for 12 years of k-12 education. Should we require H.S. graduates to make them pay back part of their H.S. education if they leave the state?

    2) What are the odds we will get a South Dakota h.s. graduate back here if they go out of state to college? I’ll bet it is lower than one who graduates from a SD college.

    3) I guess our support of education isn’t supposed to be altruistic to give students the opportunity to pursue THEIR dreams. We only support them to pursue OUR dreams.

  5. Anonymous

    Companies like Monsanto are always expanding. Could they broaden their internships here in South Dakota? Monsanto is getting into the GMO Hemp and Cannabis market where it is legalized for sale in states but could they do R & D at SDSU? Medical trials at USD? Roundup ready!

  6. Anonymous

    I don’t really see how Frerichs proposed legislation punishes students. That being said, I don’t know if the bill is necessary either.

  7. anon1

    Hopefully, students will continue to find, like their parents did, that South Dakota values are enough reason to stay.

    Not so much at the University of Iowa. Just had a friend tell me that while her daughter was filling out an enrollment application, she discovered there were SIX options under the question “gender”…. Can’t even figure out what they would all be!

  8. duggersd

    As a parent of one of those opportunities scholarship students, I too wanted my daughter to find a job as a chemical engineer in SD. However there were not a lot of opportunities for her in our fine state. She wound up in IA for a couple of years. However, a year ago, she was offered a position that brought her back to God’s country.
    I am not sure what the current tuition is in SD, but when my daughter was going to school, this would be about 10%. That is NOT insignificant. Also, how much does the state of SD contribute to the University and Technical Education system? I submit that every dollar that is given to our post secondary system is a dollar not being charged in tuition. Your daughter has already taken dual credit courses. This should give her a significant reduction in tuition she will need to pay for classes she does not have to take. She has received a major reduction in costs for semester hours with the government paying for most of them.
    If I were advising your daughter, I would tell her to find a job and put everything away that she can. She will probably take her classes more seriously if she is paying for them. Also, apply for all of the scholarships she can. If she can avoid student loans, do so. One of the things I am most proud of my daughter is that she graduated not owing a dime. We did give her some help, but she did the lion’s share through her hard work and her savings account.