Governor Noem signs need-based scholarship legislation, announces additional partners

Governor Noem, Sanford and Avera join PREMIER in raising $175 million for need-based scholarships

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SIOUX FALLS, SD – Governor Kristi Noem signed legislation Thursday committing $50 million for a need-based scholarship program in South Dakota.

She was joined by officials from Avera Health and Sanford Health, which each pledged $12.5 million to supplement $100 million in private funding from First PREMIER Bank, PREMIER Bankcard and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford.

The announcement boosted the scholarship fund’s endowment to $175 million. Officials say $200 million is needed to help ensure all South Dakota students have an opportunity to attend college regardless of their financial situation. South Dakota lawmakers approved the State’s appropriation during the recent 2021 legislative session.

“With this historic scholarship, we’ll be giving thousands of promising young South Dakotans the opportunity that they need to succeed,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “I challenged legislators to get this across the finish line, and they got it done. These dollars will sustain need-based scholarships for South Dakota students far into the future, setting our kids and grandkids up for long-term success. I want to thank T. Denny Sanford, PREMIER, Avera Health, Sanford Health, and everyone else who has made this project a top priority.”


In January, PREMIER announced a $100 million gift to create a need-based scholarship for the state’s six public universities, Augustana University and the University of Sioux Falls. Governor Noem then requested and secured $50 million from the South Dakota legislature for students attending the state’s public, non-profit and tribal colleges.


PREMIER Bankcard CEO Miles Beacom said the program will have an immediate impact on both students and teachers in South Dakota. He added that it will also open the doors to possibilities that might have previously been unattainable.


“Students in South Dakota will now understand that a post-secondary education is possible if they study hard and make proper choices,” Beacom said. “It has the potential to create tens of thousands of first-generation university attendees.”


First PREMIER Bank CEO Dana Dykhouse echoed those sentiments, saying the time was right for South Dakota to have a scholarship program that focused upon students with financial need. 


“There is a definite gap that will be filled by this scholarship program,” Dykhouse said. “Once this program is in place, it will create a 25 percent increase in scholarship monies available in our state. I cannot thank Governor Noem and our South Dakota lawmakers enough for championing this program.”


South Dakota is the only state in the country that does not currently offer need-based scholarships to public or private universities. The scholarship funds will be governed by a five-member board selected by the Governor. Allocations will be made from the South Dakota Community Foundation directly to each participating school, based on enrollment.

Much like the PREMIER Scholarship and the Freedom Scholarship, future donors to the fund have the option to name their scholarship and direct which South Dakota universities receive the money.

Categories: Politics & Elections, South Dakota News