With a new session of the Legislature that began Monday, the governor and state lawmakers are concocting ways to extend the life of Nevada's Millennium Scholarship. Cheers to them.
The scholarship, created in 2000, has helped more than 40,000 students attend college through $125.9 million in aid, according to Associated Press reports. A portion of the scholarship's funding came from the state's tobacco-industry settlement. Besides helping students who may not have ordinarily had the chance to attend college, the program encourages growth of the state university system.
As the money for the scholarship program has dwindled, the eligibility requirements have become stricter. The grade-point average requirement for this year's graduating seniors is 3.25, up from a B (3.0) average or better. Last fall, 17,000 students enrolled in the program, according to the AP. At that rate, funds for the program will run out by 2013.
Gov. Jim Gibbons proposed putting $2.8 million a year into the program during his State of the State speech. A handful of Republican lawmakers are also proposing bill drafts that would further limit who could apply for the scholarship based on residency, limiting recipients to those enrolled in programs in demand in the state or on ACT or SAT scores, instead of grade-point averages.
All of these proposals merit some consideration. When resources are scarce, only the most qualified recipients should be eligible. The increased competition may also force students to better achieve.
In a state with rapid growth, where the workforce is comparatively youthful, any advantage our young people have to better themselves through education should be embraced. The Millennium Scholarship has given thousands of Nevadans a jump-start on a better life. Though the funds for the Millennium Scholarship are a finite resource, preservation of the program will continue a precedent of helping Nevada's brightest young minds overcome the rapidly increasing expense of higher education.
- The Lahontan Valley News