The South Dakota College Access Challenge program, which will provide $1.5 million annually for the next five years, has been renewed to help underrepresented K-12 students in their transition to postsecondary education.
The initiative informs students and families about post high school opportunities. Many of the targeted students will be the first generation in their families to attend college.
The College Access Challenge includes a financial component to link students with possible scholarships and grants, and it helps families with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid process. The program also contains a small need-based scholarship component.
The program began in South Dakota in August 2008. It is paid for with federal funds and administered by the department’s Office of Indian Education.
Data from the South Dakota Board of Regents and Census 2000 indicate Native Americans in South Dakota are significantly underrepresented in higher education, and a disproportionate percentage of them are classified as living in poverty.
The program includes college and career counseling; advising and mentoring; college visits; and workshops that focus on postsecondary options, preparation for continued education after high school, and financial aid.
In addition to systematic professional development to help guidance counselors inform students and parents about college admissions and financial aid processes, South Dakota’s public universities will conduct orientations and coordinate college transition and retention services on individual campuses and system wide.
For more information, contact LuAnn Werdel at the Department of Education, (605) 773-3783.