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Bill to create state grant program for college students in high demand or emerging careers

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A House Committee is now looking at a bill to create a scholarship program for students who are enrolled in programs for high demand or emerging occupations.

The bill creates the program in the Bank of North Dakota, with a $10 million appropriation. Students could receive grants up to $8500 per school year, up to a cap of $17,000.

"A few years ago, during the national economic downturn, North Dakota was not affected," said Rep. Alisa Mitskog (D-Wahpeton), one of the measure's sponsors. "We had people coming to our state to fill the jobs. But now, states all across the country. as well as our neighboring states, are all fighting for workers."

Mitskog said this bill was modeled after South Dakota’s “Build” program.

"We're now seeing competition for students who are looking at going to a South Dakota two-year college, and having their tuition paid for," Mitskog said. "Or they're looking at neighboring Minnesota, that has a pilot program."

Mitskog said once students leave North Dakota, and get a job in other states, they are unlikely to return to this state. But she said if students go to a North Dakota school, they will be much more likely to stay. She said there are a number of pending bills that deal with this workforce issue.

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