Rule change may mean less scholarships for students

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas Department of Higher Education officials said fewer Arkansas high school students could receive the state's lottery scholarship because of a rule change.

Beginning in 2014, students must complete the Smart Core college preparatory curriculum to be eligible for the Arkansas Academic Scholarship.

Previously, students were eligible for the scholarship without the Smart Core classes, provided they had a 2.5 GPA and an ACT score of 19.

"It really doesn't seem fair," Paragould Senior High counselor Beverly Cook said. "Some students are not financially able to go to college so the lottery scholarship, they were depending on that to help."

Cook said at least several students receive this scholarship every year. But now, she said that would change.

"It hurt our students. Now that they're going to the Smart Core curriculum, even though they may be excellent candidates for college and they're just not every good in math, they're not gonna qualify," Cook said.

If students want to apply for the Lottery Scholarship, they have to alter their schedules starting freshman year to anticipate an additional, higher level class senior year, beyond algebra 2.

"We've been trying to make sure that our college bound students do have that higher level math, but if they can't pass that, then they're gonna lose out," Cook said. "I know many majors, they need to be strong in math and science, but there are majors where they don't have to have that higher level math."

The Lottery Scholarship is funded by state general revenue and a net proceeds from the state lottery.

"I'm not sure how they figure it, how much money comes to the schools and how much is paid out, but I just feel like the formula needs to be changed so schools are receiving more of that money because that's what it was all about, helping schools," Cook said. "I do wish the schools would get a fair share of the money."

Arkansas Department of Higher Education officials said fewer students will qualify for the scholarship because of the change.

To learn more about the scholarship and new requirements, visit the department's website.

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