- Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Department of Higher Education expects to hand out up to $85 million in lottery-financed scholarships in the fiscal year starting July 1, a dip from the $97 million it estimates it’ll distribute in the current fiscal year.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1Q5E2qg ) reports that the projected decrease in Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships is mostly based on changes in the sizes of the scholarships during future recipients’ first year in college and the scholarship program’s eligibility requirements.

The changes, enacted by the Legislature in 2015, will require high school graduates starting with the class of 2016 to have ACT scores of at least 19 or the equivalent on comparable college entrance exams. Also, the scholarship size will be reduced from $2,000 to $1,000 for the freshman year at the participating two- and four-year colleges.

Department director Brett Powell told the Legislative Council’s lottery oversight committee Thursday that the agency estimates the lottery-financed scholarships handed out in fiscal 2018 will rebound to about $97 million.

In fiscal 2015, the department distributed $99.7 million in the scholarships. Department records show that the program handed out more than $100 million a year in scholarships in each of fiscal years 2011 to 2014, with a peak of $132.5 million in fiscal year 2013.

The program is financed through the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery’s net proceeds as well as $20 million a year in state general revenue and a $20 million lottery reserve fund that covers temporary shortfalls.

Scholarships have been given to more than 30,000 students each year.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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