Arkansas Scholarships: Older Students Need Not Apply

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Apparently in some places, that generous state scholarship is only available to recent high school graduates. According to an article by John Lyon in the Arkansas News:

Addressing the state Lottery Commission at its first meeting in May 2009, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter said the state lottery would fund scholarships “not just for graduating high schools seniors but also for what we affectionately call nontraditional students.”

Actually, not really. Despite grand promises, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery hasn’t raised enough money to provide scholarships for “any student who graduates from an Arkansas high school, public or private, with a minimum 2.5 grade point average.” According to the Lyon article:

Because there is not enough money for all the nontraditional students, scholarships are awarded according to a ranking system that gives 70 percent weight to students’ nearness to graduation, 20 percent to grades and 10 percent to fields of study the state considers most vital.

Bradley Binns, 27, of Little Rock, …a nontraditional University of Arkansas student who was denied a scholarship despite meeting all the qualifications, voiced a similar complaint.“The majority of it went to freshmen,” he said. “I mean, no offense, but a lot of their parents paid for it anyway. We work full time.”

Many policymakers believe that expanding access to nontraditional college students, people older than 25 who are financially independent from their parents and work at least part time, is crucial to increasing the rate of college completion in the United States.

Arkansas is one of several states that provide college scholarships funded by state lotteries. Arkansas isn’t the only state having trouble funding its scholarships. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer