Scholarship increase proposed

Associated Press

Associated Press

A state legislator from Spearfish wants to increase the value of a state college scholarship program by $500 each year to eligible students.

Republican Rep. Tom Hills said his proposal would cost about $1 million a year and would raise the total, four-year value of the state-funded Opportunity Scholarship from $5,000 to $7,000 per student.

“I won’t push it if there’s no support, but I’ve had indications of support, and I think there will be a number of people who want to do this,” Hills said. “We need to do something.”

The program now awards $1,000 a year for each of the first three years of college and $2,000 in the fourth year. Hills wants to boost that to $1,500 in each of the first three years and $2,500 in the fourth year.

He announced his plan after officials of the state Board of Regents told a legislative committee two weeks ago that the scholarship has been successful but needs to be increased to keep up with inflation and competition from other states.

The regents announced that 959 students qualified for the scholarship this year. The award goes to South Dakota residents who complete a challenging high school course of study and who choose to continue their education at one of the state’s universities or technical institutes.