Former Lt. Governor Bill Halter announced his proposed plan called The Arkansas Promise to KARK 4 News on March 18, 2013. Halter claims the plan will be able to send every high school graduate with a 2.5 or higher GPA to a state college, free of charge. Bill Halter is running for governor in the next election.
You can read the entire Arkansas Promise document here. The plan states in plain English what criteria are used to qualify for the Arkansas Promise program:
“The Arkansas Promise can be stated simply: If you go to high school in Arkansas, qualify for a lottery scholarship, and plan to attend college in our state, your tuition will be paid for. By combining the Lottery Scholarship, federal grant aid, philanthropic support, and additional Arkansas scholarship funds we can cover the tuition costs of our students who achieve and maintain a 2.5 GPA. Like the El Dorado Promise and the Arkadelphia Promise, the overall scholarship level would be set at the tuition level of the highest-cost, four-year public university in Arkansas. And just as with the Lottery Scholarship, we will pay for this investment without raising taxes.”
The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is facing financial difficulty and it has been that way from the start. Mismanagement of the program brought about fines from the state that should never have happened. The lottery program has continually reduced the payout amount in order to remain solvent. 2013 sees the largest cuts with awards for the first year at a four-year institution dropping to $2,000 from $4,500. Looking for the lottery program to pay for The Arkansas Promise is good in its intention, but in reality the lottery is facing challenges that cannot support additional financial load. It would be different if all monies from the lottery will go to the Arkansas Promise and have the Arkansas Academic Scholarship eliminated.
A good idea
The middle class in Arkansas faces challenges with sending their children to college. Homeschoolers, in particular, face many difficulties. Most homeschool families are single-income families. If a family’s income exceeds the limit for Pell and other federal grants, the only options remaining are loans. Qualifying for student loans is not guaranteed and families with financial difficulties may find themselves unable to pay for college—even at the community college level.
A program that will give all students who want to go to college a change to go is something that this state needs. Removing the financial burden from families with hard-working students will send Arkansas from almost dead last in the U.S. in college graduates to one of the top states producing college bound students. As long as the program remains fair and does not penalize homeschoolers, The Arkansas Promise is one of the best pieces of legislation to come around in a while.
Lynda Altman has homeschooled her 4 children over the last 15 years and has 2 children in homeschool. She believes that homeschooling is a parent’s G-d given right. She writes a blog called Homeschooling When Mom has Cancer. Get notices when this page is updated by clicking on the subscribe link, by email, or contact Lynda @fusgeyer on Twitter.