Treasurer Brian Krolicki told the Board of Regents on Wednesday minimum grades required to get and keep the Millennium Scholarship will have to increase if the money is to last another decade.
Krolicki said his office and the governor are proposing the 3.0 grade-point average required to get the Millennium Scholarship be increased to 3.1, beginning with the high school graduating class of 2005-06. That would be increased to a minimum 3.25 GPA, starting with the 2007 graduating class.
Krolicki said they also are proposing students be required to maintain a 2.6 GPA in college to keep the scholarship.
That is a significant jump from the 2.0 GPA required now.
Finally, he said the proposed legislation would reduce eligibility from eight years after high school graduation to six years. Krolicki said keeping the money in reserve for students who don't use the money immediately, but may come back, ties up a significant amount of cash.
He said the proposed legislation also gives the board the power to designate a "core curriculum" that would be required of students to qualify for the scholarship.
Krolicki said the problem is the scholarship program is funded by the state's share of the tobacco settlement, which will eventually end.
"As envisioned, it was never an indefinite program," he said. "It had a life of approximately a decade."
One of Gov. Kenny Guinn's most prized programs, the Millennium Scholarship provides Nevada high school graduates with a 3.0 GPA average or better with up to $2,500 a year for four years to attend state university or community colleges. University system officials credit it with increasing the percentage of Nevada high school graduates who go on to college from 38 to about 45 percent.
Krolicki said with rising campus costs and the success of the program in attracting Nevada high school graduates, the Legislative Counsel Bureau estimates the full $2,500 per year for each scholarship recipient will only be possible through 2006-07, while his office estimates 2008-9.
"But we all agree, sooner or later this decade, we're going to have a problem," Krolicki told the regents.
He said the proposed changes would extend the life of the program to 2011 or 2012 before benefits have to be reduced.
Regents generally reacted favorably to the proposed changes, pointing out that students in high school are getting plenty of warning, and that the rules aren't changing for those already in college and receiving the scholarship money.
"You've done a great job to have a benchmark to hold their feet to the fire," said regent Jack Schofield.
The board took no action on the proposal.