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Noem Cheers Free College for 391 (395?) Vo-Techers

Governor Kristi Noem celebrates free college—or, in this case, free post-secondary vocational training—for 391 new recipients of the Build Dakota Scholarship:

Governor Kristi Noem today congratulated 391 students who have been awarded the Build Dakota Scholarship for the 2019-2020 school year.

“The Build Dakota Scholarship program is an incredible tool that makes it easier for tomorrow’s leaders to receive world-class career training, then stay in South Dakota to work in high-demand fields,” said Noem. “These scholarships allow students to launch their careers with a significantly reduced amount of student loan debt.”

…The scholarships cover tuition and fees, books, equipment, and other related program expenses for eligible programs within nine high-need industry areas at South Dakota’s four technical institutes. Recipients were selected by the Build Dakota Scholarship Board from a total of 1,170 applications [Office of the Governor, press release, 2019.09.05].

That’s funny: the Governor says 391 recipients, but the spreadsheet offered for download at the bottom of the presser lists 395 recipients. But math is hard… or maybe she just doesn’t like four of the recipients.

135 free-collegers are going to Southeast Tech in Sioux Falls, 108 are taking their free ride to Lake Area in Watertown, 94 are going to Mitchell, and 58 are going to Western Dakota in Rapid City. Here are the ten most popular programs chosen by the young technologists whose education we and Denny Sanford are funding:

Program # BSD recipients
LPN 36
Diesel Technology 27
Practical Nursing 26
Surgical Technology 19
Electrical Construction & Maintenance 18
Welding & Manufacturing Technology 14
Architechtural Design & Building Construction 13
Automotive Technology 11
Licensed Practical Nursing 11
Precision Ag Technology 10

352 recipients come from South Dakota. 22 come from Minnesota, fourteen from Iowa, six from Nebraska, and one from North Dakota. Even those out-of-staters have to promise to stay and work in South Dakota for three years, or they have to pay us back.

Kristi Noem loves free college, Jason Ravsnborg loves free college… why is anyone complaining about free college?


  1. o 2019-09-06 08:11

    Is there data (my lazy way of asking others to do my research) about how many past recipients stay in SD to repay their scholarship in service versus how many end up deciding to leave for greener pastures and pay the scholarship funding back?

  2. Debbo 2019-09-06 21:27

    Can’t comment.

  3. Debbo 2019-09-06 21:28

    There’s a problem stopping me from commenting on the two posts following this. I didn’t expect my above comment to publish either.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-09-07 09:50

    (Debbo, that’s odd! I didn’t get anything in my moderation queue. Try again?)

  5. chris 2019-09-07 12:24

    “High need industry areas”? Does this mean I can major in fur-trapping?

  6. Debbo 2019-09-07 16:04

    (It works for me now.)

  7. Debbo 2019-09-08 15:12

    Beginning in the fall of 2022, all public elementary and high schools in Wyoming are required to offer computer science. The lege didn’t create any funding for it, so each of the 48 districts is on the hook for equipment and teachers. Microsoft is the corporate backer of the Wyoming plan, but the article does not say that MS has promised to provide hardware, software or any other type of support.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-09-09 19:04

    I keep wondering just what kids are supposed to do with all this purported “computer science” we throw at them in junior high and high school. How many coders do we need? How many kids actually become coders? How many things can the average citizen fix around the house with code? Compare that with the number of things the average citizen can fix around the house with tools and materials from a traditional shop class, or home ec class?

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