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Parents hear Millennium scholarship pitch

by Merrie Leininger

Although the final policy won’t be complete until the end of the month, parents and students turned out to hear about the proposed Millennium Scholarship Thursday night at Douglas High School.

Sherwin Iverson, associate vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the University and Community College System of Nevada, gave the group of about 45 people as much information as he could about what the drafted requirements now say. The university regents will finalize the language at their Oct. 21 meeting.

“This is a terrifically exciting project for the state. It has the potential for enormous change,” Iverson said.

The year 2000 is the first year the state will receive money from a settlement between tobacco companies and the states’ attorneys general. Next July, the state should receive between $30 million and $40 million, of which 40 percent will go to the scholarship trust fund. Iverson said the state should continue to receive money from the settlement for as long as tobacco companies stay in business.

“It lasts forever, provided there are tobacco companies making money,” he said.

As they are written now, any student is eligible with a 3.0 cumulative grade point average, who has been a resident of Nevada and attended their last two years of high school in Nevada, received a diploma from a public or private Nevada high school and passed all the areas of the Nevada high school proficiency exam.

Students receiving the money must have been admitted to a Nevada university or community college, be enrolled with a minimum of 12 credits per semester at a university or 6 credits at a community college and enrolled in a program leading to a degree or certificate. During college, they must continue to show progress to and maintain good grades to maintain the scholarship.

If a student meets those requirements, he or she will receive up to $10,000 and can continue to draw on that during an eight-year period. For example, if a student leaves a Nevada college after her first year and decides to come back a year later, she can again receive the scholarship money. As the language is written now, if a student still has money left of the $10,000 after receiving their bachelor’s degree, they cannot use the rest to attend graduate school.

Many parents were at DHS to get more details about the scholarship for their children.

Before the program began, Jill Crandall said it sounded too good to be true. Crandall said she has a child who is a sophomore in college, who will not be able to benefit from the money, but she also has a freshman and a junior in high school. “It wish it was retroactive so my son (already in college) could use it,” she said after the program.

Marisa and Jeff Whitesides of Minden said their high school freshman will go to college with or without the scholarship, but that the money provides incentive for them to encourage him to work harder.

“There are still some bugs to be worked out,” Jeff said. However, his wife said she was glad to learn there probably will be money left when their freshman in high school is a freshman in college.

Gail Rhodes, of Gardnerville, said her daughter, a senior, wants to go out-of-state for school, but this scholarship might “help us make the decision to stay in the state.”

For more information about the Millennium Scholarship, call the state treasurer’s office, (888) 477-2667.