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The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery

by Staff Author · Published December 4, 2017 · Updated December 4, 2019

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has funded more than 270,000 scholarships for college students throughout the state. Since 2009, a total of $700 million in in-state tuition expenses have been granted. The program aims to help students pay for their education while providing a valuable source of entertainment for the community. If you’re an Arkansas resident planning to attend college within the state, this could lower the cost of your education. Here is an overview of how the scholarship works and what it could do for you.

How It Works

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has several games available. This includes Powerball, Mega Millions, Lucky for Life, Cash 3, Cash 4, and Instant Games (scratch-offs). When someone buys a lottery ticket for one of those games, a large portion of the revenue goes to find Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships. Some money is reserved for lottery winners and for retailers who sell tickets, but millions of dollars are reserved purely for college scholarships. These awards are for Arkansas residents who attend college within the state.

Where to Apply

Arkansas residents can apply for lottery scholarships through the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. There are various awards available. This includes awards for upcoming high school graduates, current college students, former college students and high school graduates that have never attended college. As long as you have lived in Arkansas for at least 12 months and plan to stay in-state for college, you could be eligible for an ongoing scholarship. Application deadlines are posted on the department’s website, but they typically fall on June 1st.

Awards Available through the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Program

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery funds the Academic Challenge Scholarship. This award is divided into two categories: one for high school students and one for non-traditional students. The scholarship amounts are the same for both versions, but the eligibility requirements are slightly different.

Currently, the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship provides $1,000 for the first year; $4,000 for the second year; $4,000 for the third year and $5,000 for the fourth year. Students attending two-year colleges will receive $1,000 the first year and $3,000 the second year.

Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship for High School Students

If you are a high school student entering college after you graduate, all you need to qualify for an Academic Challenge Scholarship is an ACT score of 19 or higher. The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery program will also accept ACT equivalents. Accepted scores include 900 for the verbal and math sections of the SAT, a 40 ASSET score, a 64 COMPASS score, or a 79 ACCUPLACER score.

Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship for Nontraditional Students

Non-traditional students are those who do not enter college immediately after high school graduation. For instance, if you graduated from high school several years ago without attending college, you would be considered a non-traditional student. In this case, you need to have a 19 ACT score or higher, as well as a 2.5 GPA from an Arkansas high school or a 2.5 GPA after 12 hours of college courses.

Maintaining Eligibility for an Arkansas Lottery Scholarship

If you earn a scholarship through the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, you must meet certain requirements to maintain eligibility during your second, third and fourth years in school. You must successfully complete 27 semester hours of college during your first year of college and 30 semester hours every year after that. You can still be eligible for a scholarship as a part-time student, but your award amount will be reduced.

Moreover, you must maintain a GPA of 2.5 while in college to continue receiving an Arkansas Lottery scholarship. You must be continuously enrolled in school. If you take a semester off, your scholarship will be placed on hold. You can only do this for a maximum of two semesters. The scholarship is eligible for renewal upon completing 130 semester hours, yet you meet all of these eligibility requirements.

If your degree requires you to be in school for longer than 130 semester hours, the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship committee will evaluate your circumstances. They will determine whether or not they will renew your award again. Furthermore, if you earn a bachelor’s degree before this benchmark, you will not be eligible for additional funding.

Need help finding scholarships? We have tips on where you can find some!

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Learn about the eligibility requirements and award amounts for the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery program, along with other scholarship application tips.

Academic Challenge Scholarship

General Information

Important Note: The following information is intended as a general overview of the program for those who are applying, or who are considering applying, for the scholarship, and is not intended to be a comprehensive compilation of program requirements. For complete information please refer to the program’s rules and regulations.

The Academic Challenge Program provides scholarships to Arkansas residents pursuing a higher education. Funded in large part by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, the Academic Challenge Scholarship is available to students regardless of their academic status, whether just graduating from high school, currently enrolled in college, enrolling in college for the first time, or re-enrolling after a period of time out of college.

Arkansas Scholarship Stacking Law

Application Deadline

Application deadline is July 1 of student’s senior year in high school.

Academic Challenge Award Amounts

Students who were originally awarded prior to the 2016-17 school year are awarded at the following rates:

Four Year College Two Year College
Year 1 $2000 $2000
Year 2 $3000 $2000
Year 3 $4000
Year 4 $5000

Starting with the 2016-17 school year students are awarded at the following rates:

Year 1 $1000 $1000
Year 2 $4000 $3000
Year 3 $4000
Year 4 $5000

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements for the Academic Challenge Scholarship are based on two student categories: Traditional (Incoming Freshman) and Nontraditional Students.

Basic Eligibility Criteria:

An applicant must:

  • Be an Arkansas resident (at least 12 months prior to enrollment) and US citizen/lawful permanent resident
  • Be accepted for admission at an approved institution of higher education in a program of study that leads to a baccalaureate degree, associate degree, qualified certificate or a nursing school diploma
  • Not have earned a baccalaureate degree
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (although there is no maximum income)
  • Not owe a refund on a federal or state student financial aid grant for higher education
  • Not be in default on a federal or state student financial aid loan for higher education
  • Not borrowed in excess of annual federal loan limits
  • Not be incarcerated at the time of application for or during the time the applicant receives the scholarship
  • Complied with the United States Selective Service System requirements for registration
  • Certify to be drug free

Additional Eligibility Criteria for the Traditional Student:

  • Enroll full-time each semester (Fall and Spring) – 12 hours the fall semester immediately following high school graduation and 15 hours each semester thereafter. Students must enroll in required hours at one institution.
    • Students who complete their bachelors degree at the end of a term may be enrolled in less than 15 hours and still be awarded a prorated award amount based on their hours
  • Students who graduate after 2010 must also meet the following:
  1. Graduate from an Arkansas public high school and has a minimum composite score on nineteen (19) on the ACT or the equivalent score on an ACT equivalent test
  2. Applicant who has a disability identified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,20U.S.C.§ 1400 et seq., as it existed on July 1, 2009, and graduated from an Arkansas public high school, and either:
    • Achieve a minimum composite score of nineteen (19) on the ACT or the equivalent score on an ACT equivalent; or
    • Score proficient or higher on all state-mandated end-of-course assessments, including without limitation, end-of-course assessments on:
    • Algebra I;
    • Geometry;
    • Biology; and
    • Literacy, beginning with the 2013-2014 school year.
  3. Graduate from a private or out-of-state or home school high school and achieve a minimum composite score of nineteen (19) on the ACT or the equivalent score on an ACT equivalent.
  4. Students who are enrolled as a full-time, first-time freshman but not receiving the Academic Challenge will also be considered Traditional if they meet the following:
    • Succesfully completed at least twenty-seven (27) semester hours in the academic year immediately following high school graduation; and
    • Achieved a postsecondary grade point average of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scaleas a full-time, first–time freshman.

Continuing Eligibility Criteria

SPECIAL EXCEPTION FOR COVID-19: If you were enrolled in the required number of hours on MARCH 20, 2020, you meet continued eligibility criteria for Fall 2020 semester. This means, you must have earned the correct number of hours in the FALL 2019 semester. If you compensated for fewer hours in Fall 2019 by enrolling in extra hours during the Spring 2020 semester and were still enrolled in the required hours (plus the make-up hours) on March 20, 2020, you have met eligibility. If you were not enrolled in the required hours in Fall 2019 and planned to make up those hours in the Summer 2020 term, you will need to enroll in the correct number of deficient hours for the summer to maintain eligibility.

  1. Maintain a 2.50 cumulative GPA
  2. Complete 27 semester hours the first academic year and 30 semester hours each year thereafter
  3. Complete all remedial courses during the first 30 hours taken after receipt of the scholarship
  4. Be continuously enrolled unless student request for scholarship to be placed on hold (Maximum hold of 4 semesters)
  5. Shall enroll in courses that lead toward a baccalaureate degree after:
    • Earning an Associates Degree; or
    • Having less than four semesters of funding left.
  6. Will be renewed until recipient first:
    • Earns a Baccalaureate degree
    • Attempts a total of 130 semester hours in 8 semesters
    • Starting with 2016 awardees, students will be renewed until the student attempts a total of 120 semester hours, or receives 8 semesters of funding, whichever comes first.
      NOTE: If the recipient’s undergraduate degree requires additional hours, ADHE in conjunction with the student’s institution, shall determine the maximum period of time for renewal.

Additional Eligibility Criteria for the Nontraditional Student:

  • Enroll full-time or part-time each semester (Fall and Spring) – Full-time = 15 hours, Part-time = at least 6 hours
  • Meet one of the following criteria:
  1. If the applicant has not been enrolled in an approved institution of higher education, has either
    • Graduated from an Arkansas public high school and achieved a 2.5 high school grade point average; or
    • Graduated from an Arkansas public high school, a private high school, an out-of- state high school, a home school high school, or obtained a high school equivalency diploma approved by the Department of Career Education and had a minimum composite score of nineteen (19) on the ACT or the equivalent score on an ACT equivalent; or
  2. If the applicant has been enrolled in an approved institution of higher education, has earned a postsecondary grade point average of at least 2.5 in completed courses.

Continuing Eligibility Criteria

  1. Maintain a 2.50 cumulative GPA (will be evaluated at the end of each Spring term)
  2. Complete 15 hours each consecutive semester for full-time and complete at least 6 semester hours for part-time (excluding summer terms)
  3. Be continuously enrolled unless student request for scholarship to be placed on hold (Maximum hold of 4 semesters)
  4. Shall enroll in courses that lead toward a baccalaureate degree after:
  • Earning an Associates Degree; or
  • Having less than four semesters of funding left.

5. Will be renewed until recipient first:

  • Earns a Baccalaureate degree
  • Attempts a total of 130 semester hours in 8 semesters (full time) or up to 16 semesters (part-time)
  • Starting with 2016 awardees, students will be renewed until the student attempts a total of 120 semester hours, receives 8 semesters of funding or the student earns a Baccalaureate degree, whichever comes first.
    NOTE: If the recipient’s undergraduate degree requires additional hours, ADHE in conjunction with the student’s institution, shall determine the maximum period of time for renewal.

Academic Challenge Scholarship General Information Important Note: The following information is intended as a general overview of the program for those who are applying, or who are considering ]]>