Offering Quality, Affordable Higher Education In South Dakota
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
Education after high school can be expensive. Over the past few decades, the cost of higher education has increased much faster than average inflation. The costs of things like food, housing and medical care have increased over the years, but, on average, not at the rate of college tuition. In some places it’s downright unaffordable. For instance, a four-year degree from an Ivy League school can cost up to $100,000.
The truth is that higher education doesn’t have to be expensive and young people don’t have to go far from home to get a good education. South Dakota’s tech schools and universities offer affordable programs and a number of scholarship opportunities, including the Build Dakota Scholarship and the Opportunity Scholarship.
The Build Dakota Scholarship is a partnership between T. Denny Sanford and the State of South Dakota. Mr. Sanford donated $25 million, which the state matched, to create a $50 million scholarship program for students entering high-need workforce programs at South Dakota technical institutes.
The program will fund 300 full-ride scholarships for qualified applicants in high-need programs. Anyone interested in enrolling in one of the high-need programs in South Dakota is eligible. Graduates of these programs have high-paying, in-demand jobs waiting for them at the end of their schooling. Employers in these fields will have a bumper crop of skilled and motivated applicants for jobs that now remain unfilled.
Anyone interested in the program can go to builddakotascholarships.com to see what programs are eligible and how to apply.
The South Dakota Opportunity scholarship provides financial aid for South Dakota high school students. It is available to those who achieve a 24 or above on the ACT and earn good grades in high school while taking a rigorous curriculum. The scholarship’s aim is to incentivize our best students to stay in South Dakota for college.
Because the scholarship has not kept up with the increasing cost of college, it is not the incentive it once was to keep young people in the state. In my budget, I have proposed to increase the value of the scholarship from $5,000 for 4 years of college to $6,500 for 4 years of college. My proposal to increase the scholarship, House Bill 1147, is dependent upon approval from the Legislature.
The Build Dakota tech school scholarship and the Opportunity Scholarship are both wise investments. It is my hope that these scholarships will lead more young people to consider the affordable, high quality education experiences offered right here in South Dakota.