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More Students Take Advantage Of Scholarship

October 18, 2010, 5:05 PM by Katie Janssen

More Students Take Advantage Of Scholarship
SIOUX FALLS, SD - More KELOLAND students are taking advantage of the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship, in which students can earn $5,000 for college.  Participation is up more than 40 percent from when the program started just six years ago.

University of Sioux Falls sophomore Sarah Kohler may have a partial volleyball scholarship, but she's still worried about the cost of college.

"My parents help me out a little, but I'm taking out loans that I'll have to pay back," Kohler said.

While she was in high school, Kohler worked hard to be eligible for the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship, which gives $1,000 a year for three years and $2,000 the fourth year.  That is $5,000 total that Kohler won't have to pay back.

"Really, it's an incentive to get good grades,” Kohler said. “I get it, get good grades and get money for it."

Statewide, nearly 1,200 incoming freshmen earned the scholarship this year; a record number. Financial Aid Director Laura Olson says 33 USF students are participating, accounting for $165,000 in free tuition money.

"Considering our size and the number of new students we get, we're very pleased with those numbers,” Olson said. “It's grown exponentially since it started."

Olson says it's a program that statewide, administrators have asked for. In fact, she'd like to see the dollar amount go even higher.

"It's stayed the same over these years and I think with tuition going up at every school, to leave the dollar amount stagnant as they have, it'd be good for them to look at," Olson said.

Like many students, Kohler is just thankful the program exists. The $1,000 she’ll receive this year is already a huge help.

"One-thousand dollars more in money I won't have to pay or take out for loans," Kohler said.

To qualify, students must earn a 3.0 G.P.A. during high school, receive a 24 on their ACT and complete a rigorous curriculum.

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