Spirit of Hot SpringsREAD ONLINE
Henderson State ups scholarship amountsPublished November 28, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
ARKADELPHIA — When the lottery-funded Arkansas Challenge Scholarship began in 2010, each Arkansas college-bound student who qualified received $5,000 to help pay college tuition.
While the scholarships have been made smaller each year, the cost of a higher education goes up. The administration at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia is trying to deal with the problem being faced by families of children ready to move on to college.
“In light of the changes to the Challenge Scholarships and recent increases seen in the cost of a higher education in Arkansas in a less-than-ideal economy,” said Lewis Shepherd, vice president for student and external affairs at HSU, “Henderson is attempting to provide quality education for students at a price they can afford.”
Shepherd said the costs of attending a university in Arkansas have increased 18 to 20 percent in the past four years. Meanwhile, scholarships for students looking to attend HSU have remained at the same levels since they were last set in 2009.
“We noticed that other institutions of higher learning were increasing their scholarships,” Shepherd said. “The competing schools were outpacing us, and some of the offers we made to better students were declined, and they went to other institutions who were offering more.”
Shepherd and Vikita Bell Hardwrick, director of university relations and admissions at
Henderson State, said parents and students shop around for the best deals when it comes to college recruitment and scholarships. She said she does not blame the best students for taking the best offer.
“We all want to attract the top scholars,” she said. “I think it’s good to reward the students who have been serious in their studies and taken care of business.”
On Nov. 19, Shepherd announced that Henderson would offer $14,000 per year to top students who qualify for the Distinguished Freshman Scholarship and attend HSU in the fall of 2014. That’s $3,000 more than what was offered at the beginning of the 20013-2014 school year.
Shepherd said students must have an ACT score of 30 to 36 and a high school grade-point average of at least 3.25.
Students with an ACT score of 27-29 and a GPA of 3.0 can receive $10,000 with the Presidential Excellence Scholarship.
Other students who qualify for the University Centurium Scholarship with an ACT of 24-26 and a GPA of 3.0 can receive a $6,500 scholarship per year.
According to a press release from Henderson State, students with an ACT of 19-23 and a minimum GPA of 2.75 may receive $2,500, and a new scholarship offers valedictorian and salutatorians with a minimum ACT of 19 and a GPA of 3.0 a $5,000 scholarship.
“We want to recognize and reward high school seniors who have committed themselves to four years of academic rigor to achieve the distinction of being the No. 1 or No. 2 graduate in their classes,” Shepherd said. “What better way to extend our congratulations than with a scholarship that almost pays for an entire year of tuition?”
A scholarship designed for community-college transfer students has also increased to $6,000 per year for transfers with up to 60 hours, or an associate degree, with a 3.0 GPA.
Hardwrick said the current average annual in-state tuition, mandatory fees and board for an incoming freshman taking 15 hours at HSU is $13,148.
“It is about being competitive,” she said, “if we can catch a student’s eye and have an opportunity for them to seriously look at Henderson.”
Shepherd said the increased scholarship amounts will be an important factor in whether some students are able to attend the university.
He said 90 percent of the students at Henderson are on some type of federal aid.
These scholarships are based on academic achievement during high school and ACT scores. Shepherd said the university also makes athletic and performance-based scholarships available.
Along with the needed help for college expenses by students and their families, the larger scholarships also help the university.
“Better scholarships are also part of a strategic plan to increase key areas of recruitment, retention and the graduation rate,” Shepherd said. “We want to increase the number of students in our program who are likely to succeed in college. Walking across that stage at graduation is a game changer for the student and the schools.”
The deadline is Feb. 1 for applying for a scholarship for the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, Shepherd said.
“Students looking to transfer to Henderson have until June to apply,” he said.
Interested students will find application forms at the university website, www.hsu.edu/scholarship.
Students can apply for a specific scholarship and can work with a counselor at the university to find out what scholarships might be right for them.
Hardwrick said the scholarships are given out on a first-come, first-served basis.
Scholarships are awarded until the available funds are depleted.
Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or email@example.com.