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Double down for Arkansas scholarships

Posted: April 23, 2014 - 3:17pm

The announcement that Arkansas lottery officials have been discussing the prospect of advertising with universities in the state has raised a few eyebrows in the community.

The proposed discussion may be a natural fit since lottery funds do go to higher education, said Arkansas Lottery Director Bishop Woosley.

The agency surveyed other state lotteries and found that they do the same. Despite this research, there is still some controversy.

President Terry Kimbrough, of Central Baptist College said he would neither support nor advertise the lottery on his campus. Kimbrough said he is concerned that the Arkansas Lottery committee is trying to negatively affect an already financially burdened group.

The Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE), also known locally as the lottery scholarship, receives “approximately $170 million annually from state revenues and lottery funds intended to ease the financial burden of students seeking an education beyond high school,” stated the ADHE website.

Yet, despite this revenue and lottery funds coming to the ADHE, they are not meeting their promises independently. Last year, the Arkansas Challenge Scholarship, also known as the Lottery Scholarship, not only needed legislative intervention, but also many cuts have been made to continue supporting students.

The 2010-11 school year was the first time for the challenge scholarship. It awarded $5,000 to eligible students for a four-year university and $2.500 for those attending a two-year school. This year, students will be looking at a total of $2,000 award. Awards will not change due to four-year or two-year attendance. The shortfall for the 2013-14 year has caught the eye of Gov. Mike Beebe, who has asked legislature to put $1.1 million of “rainy day” funds toward the suspected lack of funding.

Advertising with universities is a, “desperate attempt to increase lottery sales,” said Kimbrough.

Kimbrough is not alone in not supporting this position to oppose the lottery advertisements.

“I think that the Lottery Scholarship is too ambitious. Raise the criteria, like GPA and ACT scores. Honestly, a 2.50 cumulative GPA is a joke. Raise it by .25 and you’ll weed out a lot of people,” said UCA graduate Terry Write.

For more information on the Academic challenge scholarship visit www.adhe.edu.

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