University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

The Times…nay…Lottery Scholarships are a’Changin

In The View from the OEP on March 7, 2013 at 11:24 am

There are approximately 33,000 Arkansas students receiving a scholarship from funds generated through the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. The first scholarships were awarded to existing and incoming two- and four-year college students in the Fall of 2010. Under the initial law, students attending a two-year college would receive a $2,500 Arkansas Academic Challenge scholarship whereas students attending a four-year college would receive $5,000. You can read more about the rules for scholarship recipients here.

However, despite lottery ticket sales exceeding $300 million, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has been generating less money than it is awarding in scholarships. In fact, it was reported that under the current structure, the Scholarship Lottery would be unable to sustain itself.

Key_jThis led to action by the Arkansas General Assembly to change the law that governs the payout amounts…and payout schedule for scholarship recipients, while “grandfathering” in those students who were receiving a scholarship prior to the change in the law. Thus, House Bill 1296 was signed into law by Governor Mike Beebe on March 1st, after guidance through the senate by Arkansas Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Committee Senator Johnny Key (R-Mountain Home). Here are the details in the changes to the law:

  • For the coming (2013-14) school year, first-time recipients of the scholarship who attend a four-year college will receive $2,000 as freshmen, $3,000 as sophomores, $4,000 as juniors and $5,000 as seniors.
  • New scholarship recipients enrolling in two-year colleges will get $2,000 a year for both years.
  • The law also increases the amount of scholarships for nontraditional students – those who don’t attend college directly after high school – from $12 million to $16 million starting in the 2014-15 school year

$cholar$ship$This is not the first time the scholarship amounts have been reduced. For example, those students who were awarded scholarships in the 2010-2011 school year  receive $5,000 (four-year college attendees) or $2,500 (two-year college attendees) each year. These amounts were reduced to $4,500 and $2,250, respectively, for new scholarship recipients in the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years.  These scholarship amounts for recipients awarded prior to the new law will not change.

Officials in the Arkansas Department of Higher Education  project that the lottery scholarship program will have enough money to award the scholarships through fiscal 2018, assuming the lottery raises $90 million a year for scholarships.

That said, parents and students who will be depending on these scholarships to help pay for college may want to encourage family, friends, and passerby to start buying some scratch tickets!

%d bloggers like this: