South Dakota Scholarship and Grant Details

Take Advantage of Government Financial Aid

The South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) is the governing body established by the state to oversee the public system of higher education. SDBOR has a challenging task because South Dakota’s government has no large source of funding like that provided by an income tax. Instead, it has a rural economy, and its universities are widely scattered.

However, SDBOR is surprisingly adept at making the most of its limited resources and geographic dispersal, combining classes offered by different institutions to offer a larger variety of majors in an attempt to keep South Dakota’s college students in their home state. That canny management is reflected in the state’s financial aid, which focuses on scholarships and loan forgiveness.

Scholarships From the State of South Dakota

South Dakota Opportunity ScholarshipSouth Dakota college financing

The South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship (SDOS) reflects that emphasis on paying for results by doubling the award amount in the student’s last undergraduate year. SDOS brings $1,000 per year for the first three years and $2,000 in the fourth year, and is available for students in the 18 schools listed on the web page. Students are eligible for a total of eight consecutive terms, or four academic years; alternately, you can receive SDOS until acquiring a bachelors degree.

The SDOS looks for students with an acceptable college admissions test score (at least 1090 for the SAT, and 24 for the ACT). You must submit a high school transcript with your application.

Dakota Corps Scholarship

The Dakota Corps Scholarship attempts to retain talented South Dakota students by offering a financial incentive to study and work in-state. The program aims to cover tuition and fees, and to that end your school must also provide financial support by covering the remaining tuition and fees, if any. Various equivalency amounts for payments exist, depending on the school you attend:

  • Full-time tuition and fees at an SDBOR school, meaning a public college or university (amount #1)
  • Amount #1 given to a student attending a private school (nonprofits only).
  • Full-time tuition and fees at a tribal college (if applicable).
  • Individually allocated amounts for students at technical colleges, which cannot be larger than amount #1.

The Dakota Corps Scholarship is intended for college-bound high school students, and funding for the program is limited. Not all eligible students receive assistance, and participation is at the institution’s discretion.

To receive the scholarship, you must make a service commitment and agree to work in what is called a critical need occupation. The duration of your employment must be the number of years you accepted financial support plus one, meaning five years of work repays four scholarship years. You must work in South Dakota, and the required fields are subject to change, so check with the state’s website for current information.

As of 2013, accepted fields include teaching (math, science, special education, or vocational training), accounting, engineering, information technology, and nursing.

Board of Regents Endowed Scholarships

There are four Board of Regents Endowed Scholarships, as follows:

  • The Ardell Bjugstad Scholarship is awarded to freshmen of Native American heritage who are seeking degrees in fields related to agriculture (such as agricultural sciences, agribusiness, or farm production) or in natural resources.
  • The Haines Memorial Scholarship goes to an education major at one of these five schools: Black Hills State University (BHSU), Dakota State University (DSU), Northern State University (NSU), South Dakota State University, and the University of South Dakota (USD). To qualify, you must be an undergraduate in at least the sophomore year who is majoring in education.
  • The Annis Irene Fowler/Kaden Scholarship is given to a first-time freshman at BHSU, DSU, NSU, or USD who intends to work in elementary education and displays strong motivation (perhaps by pursuing a degree in spite of a disability, or being financially independent).
  • The Marlin R. Scarborough Memorial Scholarship supports a junior at a public university, and each of the South Dakota public schools can make a nomination.

Federal Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

As you have seen above, the state of South Dakota is determined to train as many teachers as possible. As part of that effort, SDBOR refers education majors to the U. S. Department of Education’s Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. Under the terms of the program, if you teach for five straight years in designated schools used by low-income populations, you may qualify for forgiveness of some student loans.

Specifically, forgiveness up to $17,500 on the combined amounts of your Direct loans (both Subsidized and Unsubsidized) and their cognates from the old Stafford loan program. Any default on an old loan must be remedied before you apply, although working out a repayment plan with the lender will meet that requirement.

You can learn more about other federal financial aid offers for South Dakota students here.


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