What happened to raising the value of the Opportunity Scholarship?
Last July, the Argus Leader’s editorial board got a visit from Jack Warner, executive director for the Board of Regents, and board president Kathryn Johnson. (Photographic proof below)
They said they’d ask the full board to pursue an increase in the tuition break for top high school graduates. If the Legislature agreed, the Opportunity Scholarship would have been worth $7,500, not $5,000 — costing the state an extra $2.2 million per year.
I asked Warner then why the Opportunity Scholarship was his priority when South Dakota still doesn’t have a scholarship for kids who can’t afford college.
“Warner also wants the state to establish a scholarship for low-income students, but that won’t be part of this year’s budget recommendation. South Dakota remains the only state without a needs-based scholarship, but Warner said it would take between $5 million and $10 million to create such a program with a sufficient reward.”
So, what happened?
The Legislature passed SB237, appropriating $1.5 million for a need-based scholarship, and they never considered increasing the Opportunity Scholarship’s value.
Warner said by email that the regents didn’t push for more Opportunity Scholarship money after all:
The Board put forward other priorities like the PhD in Physics, investment in research at the Agricultural Experiment Station, a matching investment for maintenance and repair, and providing for further expansion of the Physician Assistant program.
The regents didn’t ask for the need-based scholarship but Warner testified in favor of Sen. Russell Olson’s legislation.