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South Dakota Scholarships and Financial Aid

Grants, Student Loans, & Fellowships

There are many reasons to go to South Dakota. There’s Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the rich cultures of the Sioux Nation, and the trail of Lewis and Clark just to name a few. If you’re going to South Dakota for educational purposes, you have the choice of six public universities and several other independent institutions. Whether you’re attending Black Hills State University in Spearfish or the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, you may be eligible to receive financial aid to pay for your educational expenses.

Questions About South Dakota Scholarships and Financial Aid

As a new or current college student, you may have questions about scholarships and financial aid. Some of the questions you have may be:

  • How do I qualify for federal financial aid?
  • What kinds South Dakota state financial aid programs are there?
  • How do I apply for South Dakota university and college scholarship?
  • Where else can I apply for scholarships?

Qualifying for Federal Financial Aid

To qualify for federal financial aid, you have to have financial need. To see if you qualify, submit a Free Application for federal Student Aid. The application is available January 1, the year before the year you need the aid. The national deadline is usually June 30 the year you need the aid. Some states have their own deadlines as well, but South Dakota does not, so check with your financial aid office for your school’s FAFSA deadline. Students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible since funds usually run out.

Whether you qualify or how much you qualify for depends on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is calculated using information about your family’s income and savings. You report all of this in your FAFSA application. If you do qualify for federal financial aid, your school’s financial aid office will administer the grants and/or loans you qualify for.

South Dakota State Financial Aid Programs

South Dakota offers several state financial aid programs, from scholarships to loan forgiveness programs. Here is a list of available programs:

SD Opportunity Scholarship
This South Dakota financial aid program provides assistance in the amount of $5,000 to high school seniors who participated in the Regents scholar Curriculum and earned a minimum ACT score of 24 and a minimum SAT score of 1090. Click here for the application forms.

Richard Hagen-Minerva Harvey memorial Scholarship
Up to seven scholarships are available to students who are part of American Indian Tribes whose reservations are partly or wholly within the borders of South Dakota. Scholarships are worth $6,000 spread out over four years. Applicants must be enrolled in accredited post-secondary institutions in South Dakota. Click here for current application procedures.

Dakota Corps Scholarship Program
This South Dakota financial aid program was designed to keep South Dakota high school graduates in South Dakota. South Dakota students who are U.S. citizens or nationals may be eligible. Applicants must have earned a 2.8 GPA or higher and have a minimum ACT score of 24. For every year funding is received, students are required to commit to working in a critically-needed professional position in South Dakota for a year. Click here to apply.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
This program is available to help South Dakota teachers pay federal student loans.

Federal Child Care Provider Loan Forgiveness Program
This South Dakota financial aid program was designed to support and retain early child care professionals.

The following endowed scholarships are also available from the state:

Ardell Bjugstad Scholarship Program for Native American Students
This South Dakota scholarship is available to freshmen Native American Students who are studying in a program related to agriculture at any post-secondary institution.

Haines Memorial Scholarship
Sophomores, juniors, or seniors who are studying education and preparing to be a teacher may qualify for this scholarship. Only students studying at Black Hills State University, Dakota State University, Northern State University, or University of South Dakota are eligible.

Annis Irene Fowler/Kaken Scholarship
This scholarship is available to freshmen students studying elementary education at Black Hills State University, Dakota State University, Northern State University, or University of South Dakota.

Marlin R. Scarborough Memorial Scholarship
Students who are going to be juniors at any public university in South Dakota are eligible to receive this scholarship. Students are nominated by their schools. Click here for more information on all four endowed scholarships and to download applications.

Applying for South Dakota University and College Scholarships

South Dakota university and college scholarships are offered based on merit, financial need, major, special ability, or any combination of these. Scholarships based on merit are usually offered through the admissions process. All you have to do is apply for admission to the university or college on time, and you will automatically be considered. Scholarships based on ability or major may be offered through major departments and may require separate applications. Check with your financial aid or scholarship office for more information on how to apply.

Getting Scholarships from Other Sources – Businesses, Foundations, and Professional Organizations

If you still need more scholarships, the next best place to look is your community. Businesses, foundations, and professional organizations in your area may be offering scholarships to students. Here’s a list of some scholarships that are available to South Dakota students:

South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation
Award: Scholarships from $500 to $1,500
Requirements: Students must be attending or planning to attend a post-secondary educational institution. Contact the foundation at 1-888-734-8136 for more information. You can also send them a message here.

South Dakota Agri-Business Association
Award: Three $1,000 scholarships
Requirements: Applicants must be high school seniors or undergraduates studying agriculture in post-secondary institutions in South Dakota. Only those who are in some way connected to the SDABA (family member, customer, employee) are eligible.
Deadline: Usually in March.
Application: Click here for application procedures.

Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation
Award: A large number of scholarships are available to undergraduates and graduates.
Requirements: Vary depending on scholarship
Deadline: Vary depending on scholarship
Application: Applications are usually available in December online.

South Dakota Retailers Association
Award: Scholarships
Requirements: Students must be studying a field related to retailing and be enrolled full-time in the fall term at an accredited post-secondary institution.
Application: Click here for an application or get one from your counselor or financial aid office.

South Dakota Association of Towns and Townships
Award: $1,000 scholarship
Requirements: This is an essay competition. See website for current topic.
Application: Available in early 2010.

Three Things to Keep in Mind About South Dakota Financial Aid and Scholarships

  • Since South Dakota does not have a FAFSA deadline, so check with your financial aid office to see what your school’s deadline is.
  • Because universities and colleges usually have different application procedures for scholarships, check with your financial aid or scholarship office to be sure you know how to apply for them.
  • Remember to search locally for scholarships before chasing national scholarships. Local scholarships may give you a better chance of winning.

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