Less money given out as AR Lotto Scholarship hits 3 year mark

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - It's been three years since students in Arkansas have been able to receive the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship, funded by the Arkansas lottery. Original projected numbers aren't quite living up to the reality of how much money is made and given out through scholarships though.

Ebony Davis is a freshman at ASU, she said she and most of her friends from her graduating class at Marion High School have the lottery scholarship.
"Everybody was able to come here because of the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship. So if it basically wasn't here, I'd be back at home working at McDonalds," Davis said.
Davis told Region 8 News that the scholarship played a big role in her coming to Arkansas State.
"I had a low GPA and that's basically the only scholarship that allows students with a 2.5 and higher to come here," she explained.
Though it's helping many students at ASU, the amount of money generated hasn't met initial projections. Students are also receiving less than they were three years ago.
"When you're starting out you obviously have projections of what you have and it's some of that and some of it is economy," Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Dr. Rick Stripling explained.
Dr. Stripling said when the lottery scholarship started up three years ago, students received $5,000. Now, that number has dropped to $4,500 and could even go lower.
Originally, former Lt. Governor Bill Halter anticipated the lottery scholarship garnering $100 million a year for scholarships. As of today, it's only raised $286 million.
Lottery Director Bishop Woolsey recently told the State Lottery Commission that this year, the lottery is on track to raise $95 million in scholarships. 
"If you went into another year at the current expenditure rate, you could end up having a shortfall of around $20,000,000"
Dr. Stripling anticipates that in the Spring of 2012, the Arkansas Legislature will change how much students will receive again. However, he said, students who are in the "pipeline," or students who are receiving a set dollar amount right now, will continue to receive that amount.
"But I think you will see some change for the future," Dr. Stripling said.
Regardless on how much students are receiving and will receive, Dr. Stripling said it's still beneficial to the roughly 3,800 students at ASU that have it. ASU also boasts the highest retention rate for the scholarship in the state at 70%.
Davis said the stipulations for keeping the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship are fairly easy.
"Just as long as you keep your GPA and keep those 15 credit hours it's not really that bad at all," Davis said. She also told Region 8 News she'll do whatever it takes to keep it. "I need it," she said. "Its that I need to have it to stay here and keep pursuing my education."
Dr. Stripling said in 2011, they processed over $15 million in scholarships for students with the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship. They processed over $8,000,000 for the fall semester of 2012.
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