South Dakota Scholarships and Grants

Increasing your education through technical and four-year college is a great way to improve your chances of getting the job you want at the pay you deserve. Financial worries prevent many people from attempting to return to school, but they shouldn’t.

There are a variety of scholarship and grant opportunities out there to help you pay for tuition and materials.

South Dakota is a beautiful state. If you live in South Dakota and are interested in attending school there you’ll be relieved to know that South Dakota provides a wealth of scholarships and grants for the students in her state.

In this article you can find an overview of many of the tuition aid programs in this state. Following them you will also find information on Federally-funded grant and loan opportunities that are available to people in all states. These should be your first stop when applying to college and can prove to be of significant benefit to you.

Dakota Corps Scholarship Program

This scholarship program was created by Governor Round with the express intent of keeping South Dakota’s high school seniors in the state. The purpose, as stated by the Governor himself, is to educate these people in South Dakota, keep them in South Dakota for the duration of their college years and get them to provide for their state after school by working in a critical needs area like:

  • Teacher – High School Math
  • Teacher – High School Science
  • Teacher – Elementary or Secondary Special Education
  • Teacher – High School Career and Technical Education
  • Accountant / Auditor
  • Engineer (includes all fields EXCEPT mining)
  • Information Technology
  • Registered Nurse

To be considered eligible a student must go to the scholarship’s website and fill out an application, then mail it in to:

South Dakota Board of Regents
Attn: Dakota Corps Scholarship Program
306 East Capitol Ave, Suite 200
Pierre, SD 57501-2545

In addition to applying for the scholarship the student must have earned a GPA of 2.8 or greater in their senior year of high school, earned an ACT score of 24 or greater (or the SAT equivalent) and agree to work in a critical needs area of South Dakota for one year for each year of scholarship awarded plus one year. This agreement will need to be in writing and be honored upon graduation.

Homeschooled seniors are allowed to apply as long as they can pass the ACT or SAT with needed scores.

Students must enroll in classes within one year of graduating high school or being released from the military. Critical needs areas include, but are not limited to, teaching, nursing, pharmacy and large animal veterinarians. Though pharmacy is considered a critical need it must be noted that only the first four years of schooling are eligible for this scholarship.

This scholarship is eligible only at specific colleges, which are listed on the site. The intent of the scholarship is to pay for all tuition and materials; however, if the student is interested in entering a private college the college itself must be willing to forgive the remaining amount of the tuition.

Davis-Bahcall Scholarship Program

Erin Larsen
South Dakota Department of Education
700 Governor’s Drive
Pierre, SD 57501

The Davis-Bahcall Scholarship Program offers a unique opportunity for students passionate about science to study in real laboratories in different areas of the country, and in one international location. Tuition, room and board will be entirely supplied.

The laboratories are: Sanford Laboratory at Homestead in Lead, SD; Princeton University, NJ and at the Gran Sasso National Underground Lab in Italy. A chaperone will accompany selected students. Up to twelve students will be chosen for this opportunity during the summer months, as well as up to an additional twelve students who will be allowed the chance to study for three weeks at Lead and another lab, to be selected from either Chicago or New York City.

Applicants must be 18 or older, be either a senior in high school or a freshman in college in a South Dakota school and demonstrate a great interest in the field of science, particularly with the intent to earn an advanced degree in math or a related field.

Students who are selected will have the chance to apply for an internship following the trip.

An essay will need to be supplied with the application. High school and college transcripts will be needed as well as a letter of recommendation from a teacher. An interview will be conducted with the student as well. The application and essay should be sent to the address above.

South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship Program

This scholarship is available to high school students with a proven track record of outstanding academic achievement. Award amount is $5,000, payable over four years when the student attends a college accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Students will need to provide an ACT score of 24 or greater, or a combined SAT score of 1090 or greater. Applicants must enter into a college within five years of graduating high school or within one year of being released from the military.

The scholarship is paid out for each year of the student’s attendance at college at this rate:

  • $1,000 for first year
  • $1,000 for second year
  • $1,000 for third year
  • $2,000 for fourth year

Robert C. Byrd Scholarship Program

This scholarship is awarded to 17 students based on academic merit. South Dakota residents are eligible if they have an ACT score of 30 or more and a GPA of 3.5 or higher. The 17 students are chosen from the four divisions of the South Dakota region: west, north, central and south.

Students must enter college full-time directly after graduating high school. College courses may be postponed for up to one year but only if the board approves the delay. Award amount is $1500 per year. Renewing the award is contingent upon available finances and the student’s academic success.

Horatio Alger Association

This is a scholarship that is available in many states. It’s available to high school senior who have demonstrable financial need. Students interested in applying for the Horatio Alger Association must have intentions of going straight to college after graduating high school, planning to apply no later than the fall. The student should be interested in pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree.

Applicants must have critical financial need, defined as a household income of under $50,000 a year. Involvement in co-curricular activities and community service is advantageous for being considered. A GPA of 2.0 or above is required and the student must have proven integrity and a dedication to rising above their current financial situation.

Homeschooled students and students possessing a GED are eligible for this program as well, as long as they meet all requirements. The award amount is $5,000.

There are several other programs for scholarships and grants in addition to the ones listed here. South Dakota and her schools offer many, but there are national and Federal scholarships that should be looked into as well.

As mentioned before, applying for Federal money should be your first step. It is the easiest to get and the most guaranteed. Billions of dollars are reserved in our Federal government for student use.

The Federal student grant program is called FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. When enrolling in college, applying for FAFSA is usually a requirement before continuing with financial aid.


You will need to furnish your or your family’s tax information for the previous year, depending on whether or not you’re relying on your parents for income or are independent. FAFSA will determine your EFC, or Estimated Family Contribution, to your tuition and school expenses. Most schools use this information to determine your eligibility for other school scholarship programs.

You may complete your application through the mail, over the phone or via the internet. When you apply over the internet, be advised that you will need to apply for an electronic pin, which will take a few days. This will be your means of electronically signing your documents.

FAFSA will help provide whatever financial assistance you need to pay for your tuition. If you still have a tuition amount left over you will then need to apply for additional scholarships. You can also apply for the Federal Stafford Loan.

Federal Stafford Loan

The Federal Stafford Loan is easy to get and generally thought of as affordable. There are two types: subsidized and unsubsidized.

Subsidized loans are based on need and not on your credit. Loan amounts are based on your field of study and the current year of your enrollment. The government will pay your accruing interest while you’re in school and during the six months following your graduation while you seek employment.

Unsubsidized loans are not based on need. You will be responsible for your accruing interest while in school and may choose to either make payments on it while in school or allow it to build until you graduate and find a job. The interest rate on unsubsidized loans is somewhat higher than subsidized.

There are a variety of student loans that you may qualify for if your finances don’t meet requirements for need-based loans and grants. A good first stop would be your own personal bank. Be careful not to borrow more than you can reasonably handle. Student loans are a snare for many people. Use the money only for what you need and not for anything frivolous.

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