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Lottery committee hears report on scholarship distribution

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published April 9, 2012 at 11:13 a.m. Updated April 9, 2012 at 11:36 a.m.

— More than 40 percent of recipients of lottery-funded Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships in 2010 did not renew the funding in 2011.

Shane Broadway, interim director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, spoke Monday before the Lottery Legislative Oversight Committee, presenting findings from a recent study of the distribution of lottery scholarships by race, gender, disability and other factors.

Legislators may use the data to determine what changes, if any, are made to the lottery scholarships or requirements for receiving one.

According to the report, 41.6 percent of students did not renew the financial award in 2011 after receiving it in 2010. Broadway said one problem has been students not enrolling in enough hours to remain eligible for the scholarship.

He said his department has been focused on making sure students know how to maintain eligibility for the awards.

"It's not just getting them there," he said. "It's getting them through."

Broadway said afterward that officials would "dig deeper" to try and determine what else might be contributing to the number.

The study, conducted by the Arkansas Research Center, also showed more female students than male students applied for and received lottery scholarships in 2010 and 2011.

Broadway said that reflects a growing trend in which female enrollment outpaces male enrollment. He said it is "concerning" that fewer male students are enrolling in higher education.

The study also revealed large differences between counties across the state in terms of the percentage of 2011 high school graduates who received a scholarship. In Miller County, it was 20.3 percent compared to 57.1 percent in Pike County. The statewide average was 40 percent.

Rep. Tracy Steele, who sponsored a bill in 2011 that initiated the distribution study, told the board beforehand that more needs to be done to ensure all students are aware of the scholarships and how to apply for them.

"We know that every single student may not be able to be awarded," he said. "But every student needs to have full access to the information and assistance to fill out the necessary paperwork."

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NONSHEEPLE says... April 9, 2012 at 12:28 p.m.

THIS money should be available for EVERYONE going for higher education instead of "income based" awards... I've read the requirements and I can see why so few signup.. Once again the lower middle class gets left out.

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