True incentive of Millennium Scholarships

Millennium Scholarships, while still a great deal for Nevada students, have lost some of their luster under new rules likely to be approved by the Legislature.

Thousands of Nevada students have attended Nevada colleges and universities with the $10,000 the scholarships provide. They have provided tremendous opportunities to individuals and families who might not have been able to afford a college education.

They have helped keep some of the state's top students from leaving for campuses where the ivy may seem greener. And they have given many average students a goal and an ambition they may not have considered.

In many ways, it was those average students for whom Millennium Scholarships were intended - not the straight-A wunderkinds who may well be pulling down scholarship money elsewhere, not necessarily the poor families who may qualify for aid or grants, and not the well-to-do who were going to pay for a college education anyway.

Millennium Scholarships benefited all, in a democratically ideal way. But it was certainly an incentive for the above-average student who may have been unsure whether the next level of education was right for him or her.

But legislators keep raising the bar, by requiring higher grade-point averages to qualify. Is the reason to improve the quality of the students, or to hold them more accountable for their academic careers?

No, the reason largely is that the Legislature just doesn't want to put enough money into the program to accomplish the goals Gov. Kenny Guinn set when he created it.

We expect some students will be inspired. They will work harder and keep the grades up so the scholarship money keeps coming.

But thousands more will slide - not failing, but unable to raise their averages from C+ to B - and lose their scholarships. The message from the Legislature: Tough luck, but you're only average. You don't deserve a college education.

We hope the next governor will share Guinn's enthusiasm for the scholarship program and persuade the Legislature of its value not just for the best and brightest, but for those whose potential hasn't yet been revealed.


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