Eligibility and Application Process

How do I apply for the Freedom Scholarship?

Complete your FAFSA, demonstrate financial need, and contact your university’s financial aid office for more details.

What if my GPA drops below the required 2.0 for the Freedom Scholarship?

If your GPA drops below 2.0, you may not be eligible for the scholarship the following year. Your university will make determinations using its existing Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) or other information as well as whether funds are available.

What is the process of getting this scholarship?

If it is offered to you by your university, let them know you want to accept it. Then log in to the portal to confirm your scholarship and receive paperwork. A short video explains the qualifications and process. Contact your university for more information.

Can I receive the Freedom Scholarship for more than one school year?

Yes, but it is not automatically renewed. Complete your FAFSA each year and stay in touch with your university’s financial aid office about your eligibility.

How is the Freedom Scholarship granted and what are the criteria?

Complete your FAFSA and inform your university of your interest. Your university will determine if you qualify. A student is eligible for the South Dakota Freedom Scholarship if the student (1) is a state resident for at least one year prior to application for the scholarship; (2) attends an eligible institution in pursuit of a baccalaureate degree; (3) establishes financial need, as determined by the eligible institution and the Freedom Scholarship board; (4) commits, in writing, to live and work in South Dakota for a period of three years after graduation, or following military service or graduate education, if applicable; (5) maintains a GPA of at least 2.0 while enrolled at an eligible institution; and (6) agrees, through a promissory note or other agreement, that failure to comply with these requirements results in the scholarship being converted to an interest-bearing loan.

Am I eligible for the Freedom Scholarship for a graduate degree?

No, this scholarship is only available for your first bachelor’s degree.

Can I apply for the Freedom Scholarship if I transfer universities?

The scholarship is not automatically transferable. You must attend an eligible institution to apply for and receive a Freedom Scholarship. Check with the Financial Aid office at your new institution to see if you are eligible and whether they have funds available.

When can I apply for the Freedom Scholarship for the 2023-2024 school year?

Apply to your college (if you have not already) and complete your FAFSA to demonstrate financial need. The university will let you know if you are offered this scholarship.

Is the Freedom Scholarship available for technical colleges or for students attending
institutions outside South Dakota?

No, it is only available at 10 participating universities within South Dakota.

Can I qualify for the Freedom Scholarship if I attend college part-time?

It is for students who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree within five years of starting at a participating institution. Your university will determine whether a particular part-time student scenario fits the requirements.

Scholarship Disbursement and Technical Issues

What should I do if I have not received the registration email or other necessary communications?

For technical difficulties or missing emails, contact Elli Haerter at

If I transfer to another university that participates in the Freedom Scholarship, does my scholarship follow me?

No, the scholarship does not automatically follow you. Inquire at your new university about your eligibility and available resources.

What is the deadline to sign my scholarship paperwork?

Each participating university sets its deadline. Refer to page 11 on your Adobe Sign Freedom Scholarship document for your specific deadline.

What if I cannot sign in or create a new account for the scholarship terms and agreement?

For portal access issues, contact technical support or Elli Haerter at

When will the scholarship funds be disbursed?

The university updates their lists weekly and processes scholarships in your financial aid portal after that.

Employment Commitment and Deferments

Can I fulfill the employment requirement by working for a South Dakota business but outside the state?

Contact Brandy Drew at for clarification.

What is the repayment plan if I do not live and work in South Dakota after graduation?

If you do not live and work in South Dakota, as verified with Freedom Scholarship staff via regular reporting, you must repay all Freedom Scholarships you received. Please refer to your Freedom Scholarship agreement for the terms and conditions.

Is there a grace period between graduation and the start of the employment obligation?

Yes, there is a six-month grace period between graduation and the start of your employment obligation.

How will I verify my employment?

Freedom Scholarship staff will correspond with you at graduation time, and again annually for the duration of your employment phase, to verify your South Dakota residency and employment status details.

You will be asked to provide your employer’s contact information and communicate to them that they may be contacted directly to verify your employment status.

How will Freedom Scholarship verify that I am living in South Dakota while working for a South Dakota employer?

Freedom Scholarship requests your residential address annually and reserves the right to verify your address to ensure compliance with the Freedom Scholarship requirements.

Do I have to work in a field related to my degree?

No, there is no requirement to work in the same field as your degree.

What if I plan to go to graduate school?

You can request a deferment for the employment requirement for graduate school. You agree that Freedom Scholarship staff will track your progress to completion. After graduation, you are expected to join the South Dakota workforce within six months and begin a three-year employment obligation.

What if I have a military obligation?

You can request a deferment for active duty while pursuing your bachelor’s degree or completing the post-graduation employment requirement. After your military commitment, you are expected to join the South Dakota workforce within six months and begin a three-year employment obligation.

Can I return to the family farm after receiving the scholarship?

This is potentially an option and will require additional documentation as no two situations are alike. Contact Brandy Drew at to discuss further.

Does the employment commitment period compound if I receive the scholarship multiple years?

The employment commitment period does not compound if you receive more than one scholarship award. The requirement remains 3 years living and working in SD after graduation.

How does employment verification work for the Freedom Scholarship?

At or near your graduation date on file, we will email you the instructions for the next steps. Those steps include reporting your status as 1) a SD resident 2) employed in South Dakota. If you report self-employment, there are additional reporting requirements.

Scholarship Renewal and Requirements

Is the Freedom Scholarship automatically renewed?

No, you must complete the FAFSA annually and check with your university’s financial aid office or your financial aid portal about your status.

What happens if the scholarship turns into a debt?

If your scholarship reverts to a debt because you did not follow the requirements, you will receive correspondence from Freedom Scholarship staff about next steps. Freedom Scholarship contracts with First PREMIER Bank to service those whose scholarships have reverted to debt.

What do I do if my address or contact information (phone number or email) changes during the course of college or during my three-year work requirement?

Recipients should notify Freedom Scholarship staff with any address, phone, email or other contact information changes throughout the duration of their scholarship agreement. Changes can be made through this form. Recipients will also need to confirm their email address as part of using the online form.



Miscellaneous Inquiries

Is the Freedom Scholarship available for international students?

You must be a US citizen or permanent resident to receive the Freedom Scholarship.

Is the Freedom Scholarship available for retroactive application after completing college?

No. The scholarship is not retroactively applied.

Where can I find more information or get assistance with the Freedom Scholarship application?

Contact your university’s financial aid office for detailed information and assistance.

Technical and Account Issues

What if I cannot sign in or create a new account for the scholarship terms and agreement?

For account portal access issues, Elli Haerter at

Debt Terms and Repayment

What are the interest rates and terms should my scholarship turn into a loan?

The interest rate is 4% fixed for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school year. If the scholarship from either of these two years turns into a loan, the repayment plan is 120 monthly payments over 10 years. Starting with the 2024-2025 school year, the interest rate is 4% fixed. The term length is set by a minimum of $50.00/month payments up to ten years. (See your specific scholarship agreement for further detail)

If I have to repay the scholarship, what is the interest rate and term of the loan?

For the 2024-2025 academic year awards, Freedom Scholarship interest rate will be 4% however the term is no longer automatically a ten-year term. Freedom Scholarship will institute a $50.00/month minimum payment, should the scholarship revert to a loan, using a 365-day/year simple interest amortization schedule. Please see your individual scholarship paperwork for more details.

Scholarship Process and Requirements

What is the deadline to sign my scholarship paperwork?

Deadlines for paperwork are set by each participating university. Refer to page 11 of the Adobe Sign document.

What if my GPA drops below the required 2.0 for the Freedom Scholarship?

If GPA drops below 2.0, eligibility may be affected. The university makes this determination.

Will I be asked to repay the scholarship while I am in school if I no longer qualify for it?

You may request deferment of your repayment for the duration of your continuing education.

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