Early numbers suggest success for Millennium Scholarship program

The success of the Millennium Scholarship program may take years to assess, but so far it appears to be having the kind of effect Gov. Kenny Guinn had hoped.

For now, the success can be measured in number of students who have accepted scholarship money and who have remained in Nevada schools because that money is available.

Any B student who graduates from a Nevada high school can get up to $10,000 in scholarship money to attend a Nevada college. The program is funded by tobacco-settlement money, and the idea is to persuade many of the state's best and brightest students to attend state schools.

In 2000, the first year the scholarships were available, more than 4,200 students took advantage of them. Many of those students would have continued their schooling anyway, but certainly many of them would not have been able to afford to.

And, just as certainly, the scholarship money was welcomed by every one of those families.

Millennium scholars are filling up the universities in Las Vegas and Reno, as well as pushing the enrollments at community colleges in Carson and elsewhere.

Although the bar isn't very high - a 2.0 grade-point average - 92 percent of scholarship-holders are able to retain their eligibility. And more are staying in school than non-scholarship students, which must be attributed in some cases to the economics of college life.

The link to tobacco money is tenuous - better-educated people are less apt to be smokers. But the long-term goals of the program hold tremendous promise for Nevada.

More high-school students attending college. More of those students staying in Nevada schools. Educated, successful alumni contributing to the state's economy and, presumably, giving back to the school and to the state that gave them that opportunity.


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