Proposed Cill Could Force Arkansas Dropouts to Reimburse Lottery Scholarship

Tim Goral's picture

State Representative Kim Hammer is asking lawmakers to amend part two of the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship.

Hammer wants students who drop out to pay back their lottery scholarship money, which makes attending college a possibility for thousands of Arkansas students. The Department of Higher Education Interim Director Shane Broadway said the program has lost $42 million in the past two years due to students dropping out.

"After the first year, about 40 percent of the students who went to school right out of high school lost their scholarship," he said.

Broadway said State Representative Kim Hammer filed the bill to help the state get some of that money back, but there are legal questions when it comes to requiring students to pay back scholarship funds.

"By converting to a payback provision, it becomes a forgivable loan, so the constitutional amendment does not talk about those two things," said Broadway, who did add that the proposed payback bill could improve the scholarships retention rate.

"We're always looking at ways to improve the system, at ways we can improve how we handle processing the payments making sure students are there and that their staying the entire semester or staying the entire year."

The bill, though, would cost the state half a million dollars to add more staff and hire a collection agency.

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