$50 Million Gift Kickstarts First Need-Based Scholarship in South Dakota

First PREMIER Bank, PREMIER Bankcard and T. Denny Sanford yesterday announced a gift of $50 million to establish a need-based scholarship in South Dakota. The $50 million gift is just the start of what will be a $200 million endowment to fund future need-based scholarships in perpetuity. 

“Today’s announcement is historic for South Dakota and will help us retain talented young people in our state for generations,” said Gov. 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.”

South Dakota is the only state in the country that does not offer need-based scholarships to public or private universities. Initially, the PREMIER Scholarship will be awarded to eligible students at each of the six public universitiesSouth 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 Technologyalong with Augustana University and the University of Sioux Falls. The amount of money available to each university will be pro-rated based upon each school’s enrollment, with allocations ranging between $200,000 to $1.25 million per school. 

In exchange for their PREMIER 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 (tuition, fees, room/board, books, etc.) less the family income and expected contribution to determine financial need.

PREMIER is hopeful this announcement will encourage South Dakota lawmakers, area businesses and local philanthropists to step up and help provide the additional funding.

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