First Bank & Trust announced a $500,000 commitment Tuesday to support South Dakota State University’s new scholarship initiative that is directed at low-income South Dakota high school juniors and seniors pursuing dual credit courses.
The Jackrabbit Access College Early (ACE) First Bank & Trust Scholarship is the first of its kind in South Dakota. The goal is to remove the financial barrier of high school students who cannot afford the approximately $50-per-credit cost for dual credit courses. Any student who qualifies for a federal free or reduced lunch program or has a family annual income at or below USDA income levels for those programs can take dual credit classes through SDSU at no cost to them.
The financial commitment from First Bank & Trust will pay the students’ share.
“First Bank & Trust is among SDSU’s most generous and long-standing financial supporters,” said SDSU President Barry H. Dunn. “We are honored that First Bank & Trust is stepping forward again and agreeing to serve as the exclusive title sponsor of this groundbreaking new program, the Jackrabbit ACE First Bank & Trust Scholarship.”
“The passionate pursuit of education, and ensuring it is within reach for all who aspire to it, is just part of our DNA,” said Kevin Tetzlaff, president and chief operating officer of First Bank & Trust. “We are pleased to partner with SDSU on the Jackrabbit ACE First Bank & Trust Scholarship in order to level the playing field for all high school students who choose dual credit courses as a pathway to college success and a fulfilling career.”
Dual credit has become an increasingly popular opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to enroll in college courses and earn credit toward a degree while completing their high school requirements. It allows the high school students to experience classes taught by college professors and lower the cost of earning a four-year degree at SDSU.
SDSU has worked with school administrators and counselors to make students aware of the benefits offered by the Jackrabbit ACE First Bank & Trust Scholarship. “This program is a game-changer for kids, families and our state,” said Brian Maher, superintendent of the Sioux Falls School District. “I commend SDSU and look forward to the countless positive stories of lives changed due to this vision for success.”
“Dual credit encourages students to explore all options for postsecondary education and can reduce the time needed to earn a college degree,” Dunn said. “Through this innovative program, we will have need-based students come to SDSU with the equivalent of one semester of classes already done, and it will be absolutely at no cost to them because of the generous investment of First Bank & Trust.”