Proposed scholarship funding cut hurts S.D. higher education


Editorial Board

Issue: The South Dakota State Legislature may cut $2 million from the Opportunity Scholarship program next fiscal year.

The state of South Dakota has said time and time again that higher education is important 8212; keeping students in state both for college and after graduation, improving standards and increasing the number of graduates.

Unfortunately, a recent proposal to cut next year’s funding in half for the Opportunity Scholarship 8212; a scholarship designed to keep South Dakota’s best and brightest in the state 8212; contradicts these ideals.

Many students are counting on receiving the full money that they believed was guaranteed. Instead, next year, students’ scholarships would be cut in half if the proposal is passed. Although there is a clause in the original scholarship legislation allowing for this reduction, that clause is not heavily advertised and so students feel the rug is being pulled out from under them.

The difference in scholarship money will also surely cause incoming freshmen who are receiving competitive scholarship offers from elsewhere to reconsider their options, possibly driving talented and intelligent students to out-of-state schools.For current students, the loss of half their expected money could mean taking out another loan, getting a second job or not returning to a South Dakota school at all.

Ultimately, the proposal could lead to a decline in the quality of students attending the state’s universities.

This proposal runs afoul of the promise that students felt they were given when the scholarship was implemented and of South Dakota legislators’ supposed commitment to higher education.

Stance: Cutting funding from the Opportunity Scholarship would make it harder for state universities to recruit quality South Dakota students and would break promises made to students expecting the support.