Last year the scholarship faced financial trouble, and this year the number of students receiving the scholarship is on the rise.
Paul Turman, the Board of Regents assistant vice president of academic affairs, said half of the scholarship’s proceeds come from a cement trust fund that is tied into the stock market, and only set up to stand if the market gains. When the stock market turned, the scholarship’s future was in jeopardy.
“This year, the state legislature had to pull $2 million from the general fund to keep the program going,” Turman said.
With funding available, the scholarship is able to support South Dakota students.
The scholarship is for South Dakota high school students or residents who are attending one of 16 accredited institutions, including private and technical institutions, Turman said.
“The students who receive the scholarship must have completed a rigorous high school curriculum and had a C or higher in all of the courses,” Turman said.
However, those are not the only two requirements.
“Students must also have received a 3.0 cumulative GPA and received a 24 overall on their ACT,” said Matt Aschenbrener, assistant vice president of student affairs.
Students who meet these requirements receive $1,000 their freshman, sophomore and junior years, and $2,000 their senior year, Aschenbrener said.
More students than ever are receiving the Opportunity Scholarship.
Turman said a total of 3,383 students received the scholarship this year compared to last year’s total of 3,274. He said the number of new students receiving the scholarship is at an all time high of 1,176.
“An average of 40 percent of the students in the program attend SDSU,” Aschenbrener said.
Jerry Jorgensen, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor, said 1,345 students at SDSU received the scholarship so far this year. She said 1,318 students had the scholarship last year.
Once in college, students must still meet certain requirements to keep the scholarship.
Students must maintain a 3.0 overall GPA after their first semester and take 30 credit hours each year, Aschenbrener said.
Some students who did not meet the requirements for the scholarship feel the financial loss when they reach college.
Tricia Hofeldt, a sophomore pre-veterinarian student, said she took all the required classes in high school, never had below a C, and maintained a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
“I received a 22 on my ACT,” said Tricia Hofeldt. “I wish I would have taken it again and gotten a higher score.”
Hofeldt said she thinks receiving the scholarship would have helped her tremendously.
Students who did fulfill the requirements appreciate the benefits the scholarship has to offer.
“The scholarship is a nice reward for students who worked hard in high school to qualify, and don’t really get any other financial support from the government,” said Corena Johnson, a junior pharmacy student.
She said the scholarship has opened financial doors for her that otherwise may not have been opened.
“The Opportunity Scholarship helped alleviate some of the financial stress that comes with college,” Johnson said.
She said she feels she works just as hard in college as she did before.
“I study more and work harder in college to maintain the requirements for the scholarship,” Johnson said.
#1.1731059:488202236.png:opportunity-scholarship.png:Many students like Katie Person study hard in high school and through college to maintain their hard-earned South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship.:Collegian Photo by Mackenzie Clayton