Generous gift kickstarts South Dakota’s first need-based scholarship

Premier Scholarship gives opportunity to students who need it most.

SIOUX FALLS — On Wednesday, First Premier Bank, Premier Bankcard, and T. Denny Sanford announced a $50 million gift to establish a need-based scholarship in the state of South Dakota. The gift is just the beginning, with an endowment of $200 million expected to fund future scholarships.

“Today’s announcement is historic for South Dakota and will help us retain talented young people in our state for generations,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “We’ve identified the need for this type of scholarship for years, and I’m asking the legislature to match this incredibly generous gift so that we can continue to make South Dakota stronger for our kids and grandkids.”

Prior to the announcement, South Dakota remained the only state that did not offer need-based scholarships for students to public or private universities.

Premier Bank Scholarship 9

applause during scholarship announcement

The Premier Scholarship will be awarded initially to eligible students at each of the six public universities: South Dakota State University, University of South Dakota, Dakota State University, Black Hills State University, Northern State University, and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, along with Augustana University and the University of Sioux Falls. The amount of money available to each university will be pro-rated based on each institutions enrollment. The allocations will range between $200,000 and $1.25 million per school.

“The Premier Scholarship Fund will not only change the landscape of South Dakota’s higher education, but it will provide a real, lasting impact for students who couldn’t afford to go to college otherwise,” said Miles Beacom, CEO of Premier Bankcard. “Premier is passionate about providing educational opportunities that keep talented individuals in our state, and it’s time to make this happen.”

In exchange for the scholarship, recipients will be required to work in South Dakota for three years following graduation. Students qualify for the scholarship based on a formula that takes the cost of attendance minus family income and expected contribution to determine their financial need.

Premier hopes that this announcement will encourage local lawmakers, businesses, and philanthropists to step in and help provide additional funding.

In addition to the Premier Scholarship Fund announcement, First Premier Bank CEO Dana Dykhouse announced an additional $20 million donation for the Build Dakota Scholarship from the Premier organization and the State of South Dakota. The Build Dakota Scholarship was created in 2015  to offer full-ride scholarships for students seeking a degree in a high-need field, and to retain them for high-need industries within the state.

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