Proposed bill could cut cash for incoming college freshmen in Arkansas

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - For the past three years, ticket sales from the Arkansas Lottery have benefited the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship, with hundreds of thousands of dollars going to students each semester. However, one proposed bill in the Arkansas legislature could change how much your college freshman gets.

The time when Arkansas Lottery Scholarship students received upwards of $4,000 a semester could soon be over.

Proposed House Bill 1295 would cut the amount of money given to incoming freshmen from $4,500 to $2,000 a year.

The proposed bill states each year the student keeps the scholarship, they'd receive an additional thousand. So if a student kept the scholarship throughout their college career, they'd receive $5,000 their senior year.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at ASU, Dr. Rick Stripling told Region 8 News the program being in their third year plays a factor into these money cutting talks.

"Much of the work that was done on the front end of the lottery scholarship was an estimate," Stripling explained. "Participation, how many people would actually take the scholarship and then also the estimate of how many people would retain the scholarship."

Dr. Stripling said three years down the road, those estimates are turning into reality.

"The end result is the money only goes so far," Stripling said. As the money coming in can't keep up with the money going out.

"It's one of those things, you don't deficit's against the law to deficit spend."

The lottery scholarship will continue to help thousands of Arkansas families, as Dr. Stripling said any amount of money helps.

But Freshmen like Zach Mobley feel it may not help as much.

"It'll be beneficial but not near as...y'know what I mean? 'cause they're definitely going to have to take out some student loans because not everyone can get academic scholarships," Mobley told Region 8 News.

ASU Freshman, Lauren Clark said that if this or another bill does dramatically drop the amount of money given to freshmen, it may limit options for many.

"Students who have looked forward their whole senior year to going to a college they want to go to may not get to attend that college because of financial problems," Clark told Region 8 News. "And that's just not fair."

Dr. Stripling explained that this is just something that comes with balancing a budget. "It's something all of us will have to reconcile and work with, especially new incoming freshmen."

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