University of Arkansas at Little Rock announces scholarship to cover additional costs

High school students reach for thrown T-shirts following the announcement of the new Trojan Guarantee program Wednesday during the Discover college preview day at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Jack Stephens Center.
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)
High school students reach for thrown T-shirts following the announcement of the new Trojan Guarantee program Wednesday during the Discover college preview day at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Jack Stephens Center. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock will offer a new scholarship to cover remaining costs of tuition and mandatory fees not already provided by the federal Pell Grant that is available to students from low-income households, the Arkansas Challenge Scholarship, and other financial aid.

The program, Trojan Guarantee, will make attending UALR more affordable for eligible students, although it does not cover other typical student expenses like housing, books, etc.

Cody Decker, vice chancellor for student affairs and chief data officer, announced Trojan Guarantee -- the latest of a series of initiatives to make attending college less of a financial burden -- on Wednesday during Discover, one of UALR's largest admissions events, with more than 1,100 potential students and family members visiting the university.

The Trojan Guarantee will be available beginning with next fall's freshmen class. Students must be full-time, Pell-eligible, and receiving the Arkansas Challenge Scholarship -- which is funded in large part by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery -- to be eligible for Trojan Guarantee.

Roughly half of UALR's freshmen -- and nearly 60% of undergraduates -- are Pell eligible, according to the university. The scholarship will be renewable for three years, and the university anticipates roughly 200 freshmen will utilize Trojan Guarantee in 2024-25.

UALR has "long been a leader in [college] affordability, and Trojan Guarantee continues" that emphasis, said Charlene Kirk, UALR admissions counselor. Cost is among the top barriers -- for many students, the top barrier -- to college, but Trojan Guarantee removes that barrier, Kirk said.

With Trojan Guarantee and other affordability offers, an education at UALR is "good for the pockets" of students and their parents, UALR's men's basketball coach Darrell Walker said during the Discover event. UALR offers "great education, professors, and facilities," and provides "everything you want" in a university.

Trojan Guarantee will be funded by a combination of institutional and private funds, and students don't have to live or work on campus to receive the scholarship, according to UALR. They do, however, need to apply for UALR admission and the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship, and submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form.

"This program represents an opportunity for students to expect more for themselves and their future, without accumulating significant debt," Chancellor Christina Drale said in a news release from UALR. "I am excited for this next step in ensuring UA-Little Rock is affordable for all."

This is only the latest attempt by UALR to keep student costs manageable.

For example, UALR's half-off tuition scholarship is available to all full-time, first-time freshmen enrolled at UALR, and nearly 950 students have received almost $3 million in scholarships since the program launched in 2020, according to UALR. The university is the only Arkansas institution to have a campus work-study program in addition to federal work study, and UALR offers the third-lowest net price of all public four-year institutions in the state.

Annually, the university awards more than $7 million in private scholarships, more than $5 million in state aid, and more than $13 million in institutional funds to students, according to UALR. Tuition at UALR this year is $6,600 -- although that figure can vary depending on a student's major and other factors -- an increase of less than 2% from last year, and there was no increase to mandatory fees, which remain at $3,033.60 total annually.

UALR is not the only college or university in the state to announce plans to make attending more affordable.

Some recent examples include:

Arkansas State University's A-State Promise Plus will cover tuition and mandatory fees -- and offer a housing stipend -- for Arkansans who are first-year, first-time college students from families with adjusted gross incomes of $70,000 or less beginning with next fall's freshman class.

UCA Commitment that, beginning with next year's freshman class, University of Central Arkansas students from Arkansas households with less than $100,000 in income will not have to pay tuition and mandatory fees out of pocket. UCA will help these students receive all federal and state aid due to them, as well as scholarships, then assist in making up any remaining balance through UCA scholarships and work study programs -- but UCA Commitment applies only to tuition and mandatory fees, not other costs like housing and meals.

Students from participating Hempstead County high schools will have their first year of college at the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope-Texarkana paid for through the Hempstead Guarantee, which will be available for 2024 high school graduates, includes tuition, fees, and book costs, and students can attend classes at either the main campus in Hope -- the Hempstead County seat -- or the satellite campus in Texarkana.

Hendrix College, a private institution in Conway, where officials created the Tuition Advantage program, which assures qualifying students that they will not pay more tuition to Hendrix than the published tuition rate at the flagship public university in the student's home state, according to the institution's website.

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