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Scholarships: how are Arkansans paying for college?

Arkansas has scholarship money available.
Arkansas has scholarship money available.
Arkansas Lottery

If you or your child plan to attend an Arkansas college or university in the fall of 2015, it's time to start searching admissions requirements and available scholarships in order to pay for college.

Financial awards based solely on academic achievement are Academic Challenge Scholarships and technically, just about every high school senior in Arkansas should be eligible for one.

The Academic Challenge Scholarship requires between a 3.0 and 4.0 GPA and an 19 Act Score.

Currently, Arkansas lottery scholarships aren't enough to pay for college or fund education for a good number of Arkansas students because overall, the average college in Arkansas costs more than $8,000 per year, and that's for commuter students. Furthermore, tuition never includes fees or the price of books.

The University of Arkansas ( in an Arkansas Democrat Gazette article) suggests that the loss of some 200 freshmen last year is related to the decrease in the lottery scholarship stipends which altered methods that students had available to pay for college.

However, a better method of determining what happens to students from year to year is to look at the academic success of the previous freshmen class and determine whether or not college was a viable route for the admitted student. If so, that would significantly reduce the number of applicants for the next year.

Word spreads fast in Arkansas.

Whereas freshmen were once awarded with scholarship monies that totaled more than $4,000 per year,currently freshmen are eligible for only $2,500 per academic year. The University of Arkansas response to the scholarship award decrease was to "lower standards for one freshmen scholarship" in the effort to help Arkansans pay for college.

The University of Arkansas requires an ACT score of 20 for admissions.

The University of Central Arkansas, also hit hard by changes in lottery funding, requires a 19 ACT score.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock has a variety of scholarships available--the higher the ACT/SAT scores, the more funding available for the students four year career at UALR.

Harding University requires a 22 ACT score and the university offers scholarship awards as high as $11,000 each academic year.

Hendrix requires ACT/SAT scores, however, its admissions process isn't based solely on standardized test scores. However, Hendrix students tend to be the state's, if not the nation's most academically focused and prepared college students. There are scholarships of up to $7,000 available at Hendrix.

Lyon College doesn't detail its financial award amounts, but does have scholarships available. Lyon has a reported average ACT score of 25.

Ouachita Baptist University requires a 20 ACT score and a 2.75 GPA. OBU's policy is clear: the university does not waiver minimum academic requirements for freshmen admissions. More than $30,000,000 in grants, scholarships, work study etc. are awarded at OBU each year.

Across the street from OBU is Henderson State which grants conditional enrollment to students with 16, 17, and 18 ACT scores. Students with ACT scores of 19 or better are eligible for admission without conditions.

Arkansas Tech's ACT requirements are 15. Several scholarships are awarded at ATU.

Community college students and two-year-college students in Arkansas are also eligible for Arkansas lottery scholarships and other financial awards.

Despite financial awards, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville experienced a drop in Arkansas lottery scholarship recipients last year. There were 1,803 students given lottery scholarships as freshmen during the 2013-2014 academic year. In 2012-2013, when scholarships were at $4,500 peak, 2,095 students accepted scholarship monies.

There is a drop in college enrollment in colleges and universities all over Arkansas. It may have to do with the decrease in funding, it may have to do with the way some colleges have changed the way colleges disburse financial aid checks.

Either way, the reduction in classroom sizes could signify that students who are in the college classroom with whatever scholarship monies they have been granted are there with a sincere investment in their education.

Overall, the nation has about 38.8 percent college graduates among people between the ages of 25 and 34. Arkansas has the least number of college graduates in that age group, 28.6 percent, which only edges out Nevada.