Scholarship Award Policy

The University of South Dakota is proud to honor academically talented and exceptionally skilled students with a variety of scholarships and awards. The university annually awards nearly $11 million in scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students as funded by the USD Foundation through various generous donors.

Scholarship Acceptance and Terms

Acceptance of an individual student aid award is an agreement to the terms and conditions of that award as well as all policies governing USD scholarships. It also permits USD and the USD Foundation to release basic information (name, year in school, hometown, major, etc.) to donors, media, educational affiliates, and for use in University communications.

Every student's financial award package (scholarships, gift, and need-based assistance) is subject to audit with the final determination to be made by the USD Financial Aid Office in compliance with federal aid regulations. USD reserves the right to adjust individual scholarship awards, even after a student has accepted them, to ensure the effective use of federal, state, and university dollars.

USD funds should not exceed in-state direct costs (tuition, fees, room and board). If the student also receives non-USD funds (including all forms of federal, state, and external assistance), the total of all funds cannot exceed the total direct and indirect costs of education. Indirect costs include allowances for personal expenses and transportation.

Full-time fall and spring enrollment is required for all USD scholarship recipients unless otherwise stipulated by USD Foundation donor preferences. Scholarships may not be pre-paid, such as early graduation, or accessed prior to the semester(s) indicated in the award notification.

Priority consideration for scholarship recipients will be given to those who complete online academic scholarship applications.

Mickelson & Presidential Alumni Scholarships

Prestigious awards offered by the University of South Dakota include the George S. Mickelson and Presidential Alumni Scholarships. These programs require participation in the USD Honors Program, a 3.5 cumulative grade point average (GPA), and a benchmark completion of 30 credit hours per year. Students enrolled in select disciplines are subject to additional fees. 

The Mickelson and Presidential Alumni Scholarships are valued at in-state direct costs (tuition for 15 credit hours per semester up to 120 hours over four years) and general fees. In addition, the Mickelson includes prorated double occupancy in a traditional-style residence hall and a standard meal plan. 

Coyote Beginnings/Commitment Program

The Coyote Beginnings/Commitment Program offers eligible first-time students a guaranteed annual dollar amount predicated on meeting the required credentials. The actual funds will be fulfilled through various sources including departmental scholarships. On a student financial aid account, the Coyote Beginnings/Commitment level will be noted. If a donor appreciation letter is requested, students will be notified via email.

In addition, Coyote Beginnings/Commitment Scholarships or Grants of $1,500 per year or greater require a 3.0 cumulative GPA for renewal. Awards $1,000 or less require a 2.5. Graduate Transfer Scholarships mirror the Coyote Beginnings/Commitment amounts but have a 2.7 GPA renewal requirement. These programs are available for eight consecutive undergraduate or graduate semesters (fall/spring) and recipients must complete full-time enrollment in each academic year.

Renewable Scholarships

Generally, all renewable awards are contingent upon maintaining a minimum GPA of 2.5 (unless otherwise noted in this document or by the award notification), completion of donor appreciation letters if requested, and meeting all other conditions of the renewal criteria as specified.

If a student is awarded a scholarship equal to or greater than the cost of in-state tuition and fees for 30 credits, any Coyote Beginnings/Commitment, USD Dual Credit, USD Housing, USD Grant, and USD Valedictorian Scholarship(s) previously offered will be replaced with the new award. 

Students wishing to appeal or petition USD scholarship criteria or renewal should complete the USD Scholarship Appeal Process in Coyote One Stop.

Specific USD Renewal Requirements

Al Neuharth Scholarship for Excellence in Journalism may be renewed if recipients remain active in the USD student newspaper, (The Volante) or other student media, and meet other criteria as specified by the award notification.

Dorothy C. Schieffer Scholarship - Schieffer Scholars must maintain a 3.7 cumulative GPA. At least one international travel/study abroad experience and a working internship/service opportunity may be included.

The Nolop Institute Scholarship for Medical Biology recipients must maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA and complete a benchmark of 30 credit hours per year. Summer research stipends are available.

Rawlins Scholarships are awarded to the highest-ranked graduating seniors from select SD high schools. Recipients must maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA and the 30-hour per year credit benchmark.

SD Freedom Scholarship renewal requires a 2.0 cumulative GPA, satisfactory progress toward degree completion in five years, and documented financial need.

Spearfish Area Scholarship renewal requires full-time enrollment, a 2.5 cumulative GPA, and documented substantial financial need.

Walter A. & Lucy Yoshiko Buhler Scholarship is valued at the cost of in-state tuition and fees for up to 15 undergraduate credit hours per semester may be renewed with a minimum GPA of 3.5, full-time enrollment, and continued pursuit of a business/fine arts degree.

Early Admission Awards

Awarded to a select group of high-achieving academic scholar applicants with professional school aspirations, early admission grants conditional or provisional acceptance to either the Knudson School of Law or the Sanford School of Medicine. Participation in the USD Honors Program is required.

Student Athletes

Questions should be directed to the USD Department of Athletics, specifically to the coaching staff of the preferred sport. Student-athletes are subject to all NCAA regulations and guidelines. Individual scholarships may be adjusted to ensure compliance with these rules and regulations. Scholarship offers are not considered final until indicated on an athletic tender or verified through the USD Compliance Office

Talent and Leadership Scholarships

Additional opportunities may also be available through the departments such as music, art, theatre, and military science. These scholarships may require auditions, portfolios, or other qualifying procedures. Questions regarding these awards should be directed to the sponsoring department/program.

Study Abroad and National Student Exchange

For USD Direct, USD Sponsored, and NSE Plan B programs, students may apply USD scholarships to the cost of participation. Students may use these scholarships for up to two semesters of study-away participation.

If students elect to participate in NSE Plan A, USD Affiliate, or another program, they will not be eligible to apply USD scholarships and will lose that semester of award eligibility. USD Scholarships are renewable following study-away participation provided students maintain the minimum GPA and meet all other conditions as specified.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a fundamental concept underlying the educational enterprise of USD. We are committed to honesty, fairness, trust, respect, and taking responsibility for actions. All students are expected to abide by the principles of academic integrity outlined by the “SD Board of Regents Code of Conduct” in the USD Student Handbook.

All programs, policies and procedures described are subject to change. All statements in this publication concerning requirements, dollar amounts, conditions, or other matters are for informational purposes only and are subject to change without notice.

March 2024

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