BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — Many families are facing financial uncertainty right now, but a timely announcement from South Dakota State University could help make college more affordable.
High school students can already take dual credit courses and earn college credit. However, the state’s Legislative Research Council found high school students who qualified for free and reduced lunch weren’t signing up for dual credit.
SDSU is launching two scholarships to change that and help students from low income families pursue their degrees.
It’s been a few weeks since SDSU has had students on campus. The COVID-19 pandemic has them finishing their semester online.
“In lots of ways we’re doing well. Is it stressful? Yes. It’s very stressful,” Barry Dunn, SDSU president, said.
SDSU is also looking toward the future. It’s launching the the Jackrabbit Access College Early Scholarship, also known as ACE. It’s for qualifying low income high school juniors and seniors, and pays for them to take dual credit courses in high school.
“We think they will be successful in dual credit and that will change their attitude to post secondary opportunities for them,” Dunn said.
Dunn says this scholarship doesn’t require students to go to SDSU. However, SDSU is also launching the Jackrabbit Journey Scholarship. It provides financial assistance to students who enroll at SDSU after earning dual credits at this institution.
“It’s really critically important to reach this group of students in South Dakota because they are our future workforce,” Michaela Willis, vice president of student affairs, said.
Though SDSU was working on these before the COVID-19 outbreak, Dunn hopes this announcement eases some of uncertainty.
“We know families are stressed. We know a lot of people have been laid-off or furloughed,” Dunn said.
The Jackrabbit ACE scholarship begins in the fall, and the Jackrabbit Journey Scholarship is set for fall 2021. South Dakota High School students can work with their school counselors on applying. SDSU leaders hope these efforts will eliminate barriers to higher education to keep students here and in South Dakota.
“I will be very very happy when that first group graduates,” Dunn said.