The South Dakota Legislature established five requirements that all South Dakota high school graduates must meet in order to establish their initial eligibility in the Opportunity Scholarship program. These requirements specify that a recipient must:
- Be a resident of South Dakota at time of high school graduation.
- Have an ACT composite score of 24 or higher before the beginning of post-secondary education. If using a SAT score, the sum of the verbal and mathematics scores on the SAT must be at least 1090.
- Complete high school course requirements with no final grade below a "C" (2.0 on a 4.0 scale) and a cumulative high school GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (grade of "B") prior to graduation (Note: One unit of high school credit equals 1 year of instruction).
- Effective for those students entering into postsecondary education for the first time on or after August 2013, the curriculum requirements specified in section 3 above are not required for any student who has received a composite score on the ACT of at least 28 and meets the ACT college readiness benchmarks scores equaling or exceeding 18 for English, 21 for Reading, 22 for Math, and 24 for Science.
- Attend a university, college, or technical school accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and that provides instruction from a campus located in South Dakota.
- Enter into the program within 5 years of high school graduation, or within 1 year of the student's release from active duty military service (if that release is within 5 years of the date of the student's high school graduation). Students seeking to transfer from a regionally accredited university, college, or technical school located outside of South Dakota may do so within two years following high school graduation and be eligible to receive partial award.