$50M gift kickstarts first need-based scholarship in state

First PREMIER Bank, PREMIER Bankcard and T. Denny Sanford announced Wednesday a historic gift of 50-million dollars to establish a need-based scholarship for college students in the state.  The 50-million dollar gift is the start of what will be a 200-million dollar endowment to fund future need-based scholarships.

Governor Kristi Noem said that these scholarships will help retain talented young people in the state.  She said that she will be asking the state legislature to match the 50-million dollar gift.

Initially, the PREMIER Scholarship will be awarded to eligible students at each of the six public universities—South 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 Technology—along 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.

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 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.

  First PREMIER Bank CEO Dana Dykhouse said the Build Dakota Scholarship has allowed them to see first-hand how successful a program can be when you create the right partnerships between the private sector, education institutions and governments.  He said that’s why they recently announced another investment in Build Dakota and why they modeled the PREMIER Scholarship Fund in the same fashion.

The Build Dakota Scholarship Fund was established in 2015 and has allowed 19-hundred students the opportunity to graduate debt-free and enter the workforce in high-need industries in South Dakota.