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How a Plot of Texas Farmland Keeps Paying for College Scholarships

Image via Flickr/ (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
A donation of farmland to Gruver ISD grows to be more influential in the community.

From Texas Standard

It may be one of the most innovative merit scholarship programs anywhere in America.

In Gruver, Texas, the town is harvesting scholarships from a 410-acre cornfield.

Troy Seagler, superintendent of the Gruver Independent School District, explains to the Standard how a donation of farmland from resident Karl Nielsen's estate sowed the seeds for the scholarship program.

"The price of farmland has skyrocketed, and the school could have probably made about a million dollars if they did sell the farmland, but ultimately, this man donated this land to the school in hopes that it would not just be one lump of money that is here and then eventually is gone," Seagler says.

From the late 1970s to 2011, the land was leased out for an annual price tag of $25,000. After the decision to grow crops and the creation of the Gruver Farm Foundation, the yield now amounts to about $400,000 a year.

Profits go towards scholarships for graduating seniors, and a merit-based points system over four years determines the total scholarship amount.

"You could walk the hallways of Gruver High School and you can still get some money, but it won't be as much as a student who's involved in multiple things." Seagler says. "So basically, the more you're involved, the more points you earn — ultimately, in the end — the more money you're gonna get."

Based off 16 hours of tuition and fees at West Texas A&M, the maximum scholarship amount per student each semester is $4,000. After 8 semesters at a traditional four-year college, a Gruver High School alum could be awarded as much as $32,000.

Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.
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