The Issue Giving Us All a Chance:

According to many statistics, there is a great shortage in nurses that is causing medical mistakes and dangers to patients seeking medical care. The mistakes are due to staffing shortages that are putting a strain on nurses currently in the field and causing mandatory overtime hours to demand too much from these nurses. In order to offset this dangerous trend, the government, both federal and local, as well as many organizations and foundations have increased the accessibility of nursing degrees to encourage a younger population of nurses and similar healthcare professionals to emerge.

By increasing the number of the younger population that chooses nursing as their career, the staffing shortages should decrease adding to the safety of patients. This issue has had a negative effect on the public and on medical professionals which has increased the demand for more educated nurses to enter the field. With the demand for nurses rising, there are more competitive wages and better benefits than before. South Dakota is participating in this offset attempt by offering scholarships and grant programs only to its residents increasing the nurse population within the state of South Dakota. The best part of this is that you don’t have to pay these scholarships and grants back. This is free money all for your education, never to be asked about again. Yes, there are eligibility requirements, but if you reside in the State of South Dakota, you are sure to be eligible for at least one of these financial aid opportunities.

South Dakota Nurses Foundation Scholarship

This scholarship is only available to nurses that are currently seeking a master’s or doctoral degree and have the overall career goal of teaching a bachelor’s degree program or providing direct care in a highly underserved area. The requirements are:

  • 3.0 GPA or higher
  • South Dakota residence
  • Current SDNA member with at least one year membership served

You will also need a letter of recommendation as well as a personal statement in order to apply and be eligible for this scholarship. The amount awarded each cycle is $500 and the student can be attending any South Dakota school.

Rita H. Walsh Scholarship

The South Dakota Nurses Association has developed the Rita H. Walsh Scholarship to give one nurse that is currently pursuing a higher level nursing degree with $1,000 towards tuition or any school expenses he or she may have. This scholarship is awarded every spring to the student that meets the requirements:

  • At least 3.0 GPA
  • South Dakota residence
  • Enrolled in South Dakota nursing institution

Dakota Corps Scholarship Program

Provides scholarships to qualified high school students to provide full tuition reimbursement or funding as well as any other required fees in order to keep the students in South Dakota. Students must meet eligibility requirements upon graduation and be seeking higher education upon graduation from high school. Actual award amount will match tuition costs and any material and resource fee amounts as well.

South Dakota Pell Grant

South Dakota residents are also available for the South Dakota Pell Grant which awards a yearly amount to put towards any higher education costs from tuition to campus housing costs and even costs for any personal costs for contributing to continuing education. Students must maintain these eligibility requirements each year to be awarded for that cycle:

  • 2.5 GPA or higher
  • U.S. Citizen
  • Attending or enrolled to begin online courses or campus classes

Other Forms of Financial Aid

Along with these “free money” resources for college, there are also many student loans available for students to borrow and have deferred until graduation in order to finance their schooling without having to pay it back until they are working. Each of these student loans will have to be paid back, but students are able to make payment plans for convenience in paying these loans back as they begin their nursing career. Following is one such loan program available for South Dakota resident nursing students.

Nursing Education Assistance Loan Program

The South Dakota Legislature authorized this loan program in 1989 to assist South Dakota resident nurses that are currently admitted to educational programs such as preparation for licensed practical nurses and registered nurses or even for a nursing degree enhancement program. The amount funded each year is up to $1,000 determined by the South Dakota Board of Nursing. Fees are only to be applied to tuition, books, and other required fees.

Repayment of Loans and Tuition Reimbursement

Upon graduation from an accredited nursing program, there are many employers that will provide tuition reimbursement as well as participate in any tuition payment plans. Many of these tuition reimbursement and payment plans term over several years in which you will be repaying the loans at a slow rate which allows for you to be able to effectively pay the loans off. There are also other options to search for such as loan repayment programs in which the loan will be repaid for you.

South Dakota State Loan Repayment Program

This program provides repayment for qualified loans in health care higher education. The nurse or other health care provider will agree to provide services in a needy area for a minimum of 2 years in order to remain eligible for the program. This becomes a contract between the healthcare professional and the state of South Dakota.

There are 2 year contracts and 4 year contracts each offering their own amounts based on the healthcare profession.
2 Year Contract Repayment Amount:

  • $35,000 physicians
  • $19,000 non-physicians

4 Year Contract Repayment Amount:

  • $100,000 physicians
  • $35,000 non-physicians

This is a great option to paying back student loans and is a great benefit of entering the healthcare field.

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