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Posted 10/21/09 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

This past legislative session, the North Dakota passed a new education funding bill that every parent in the state needs to become familiar with and then share that information to their school-aged children. So what’s so special about this new piece of legislation?
It’s nothing special if you like spending money on your child’s college education.
But if you want the State of North Dakota to pony up a very generous $6,000 towards your son’s or daughter’s college education, then you will want to become very familiar to how the North Dakota Academic Scholarship or the North Dakota Career and Technical Scholarship programs work and what is expected of your son or daughter academically through their high school career.
In a nutshell, beginning with this year’s North Dakota high school graduation class, the State of North Dakota will be making available scholarships of $750 per semester or $1,500 for the academic year for full-time students enrolled in either a public or private accredited higher education institution or technical school in North Dakota.
So what does a high school student have to do to get in on some free money to attend college? Simply do what they should be doing in high school anyway. And that is challenge themselves by taking a full range of classes, learn their subject matter and get decent grades (a minimum of a “C” in each class), have cumulative high school grade point average of 3.0, which is a straight B, or higher upon graduation, and finally score a 24 or higher on the ACT test.
And to make the offer even more attractive, the State of North Dakota is willing to pay the test fee for the ACT or the Work Keys Assessment tests which will offered on April 28.
Once the student is in college, they can reapply annually for these scholarships so long as they maintain full-time status at college and maintain a 2.75 GPA.
A $6,000 scholarship to attend a North Dakota college or university is nothing to sneeze at.
With college costs running upwards from $15,000 to $20,000-plus per year in North Dakota ask any parent, who is currently footing the full bill for their child to attend college, how they’d like to be on the receiving end of one of these scholarship funds? Or ask a college student who is not only going to class full-time but having to work doing non-class hours to meet their expenses, how they’d like to get an additional $1,5000 a year simply for maintaining good grades?
Unfortunately, because the scholarships begin with the graduating class of 2010, there will be some students currently in high school that won’t have the chance to get their grades up to the minimum qualifying standards or to take the minimum course requirements. But the scholarship program had to have a starting point.
That said, the State of North Dakota put its money where its mouth is when the state legislature decided to emphasize how important it is that our students receive a solid high school education and get good grades in order to help them become better college students and ultimately more productive citizens when they are ready to enter the workforce.
So the bottom line is now is the time to start talking to your children about the importance of taking a full range of courses and getting good grades in school. The process starts now, whether your student is in grade school or just getting ready to enter high school.
The state has scholarship money available for your children to attend college. They just have to learn to earn it.