LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The budget for the lottery-funded scholarships does not allow room for some qualified students.
State law caps the category at $12 Million, leaving many applicants unable to tap in.
"I thought this was the great Arkansas scholarship, so that was frustrating to me," says Jetta Schirmer who thought her grades would land her the Academic Challenge Scholarship.
Schirmer met the guidelines, but was originally denied because of the $12M cap. Schirmer still has hope. The higher education department announced today, it has awarded 1,800 scholarships to non-traditional students. That's a total of 3,500 fall and it may have an additional 400 by October.
"I have straight A's. It should be really easy to get a scholarship, but it wasn't at all."
The 23-year-old chemistry major at UALR is a non-traditional student. The state requires they have college credit hours. There is no cap for high school seniors as long as they meet the criteria of a 2.5 GPA or 19 on the ACT.
"I think overall, it's an unreliable group of students to be giving everything to," says Schirmer who is referring to the state's data on retention rates that show 79 percent of the non-traditional students are retaining their scholarships and compared to 52 percent of traditional students.
"It's equal access to education. It's maybe not equal access to financial aid in this particular instance," says Brandi Hinkle with the Arkansas Higher Education Department.
Hinkle says non-traditional students can still apply for the state's Workforce Improvement Grant along with federal programs. She also says there are fewer scholarships out there in comparison to those given to traditional students. She often hears stories like Schirmer's.
"We do. It's unfortunate, and we are sympathetic, and we all realize there are challenges for non-traditional students," says Hinkle.
"I don't think there is a magic number and $12M doesn't get us as far as we would like," says Senate Chair of the Lottery Oversight Committee Sen. Johnny Key (R).
Senator Key says changing the scholarship budget and criteria will depend on lottery projections. Senator Key says he also receives concerned emails over how this scholarship money is awarded. This could be a debate come legislative session.
The scholarship money going to traditional students is $76M compared to $12M for non-traditional students.
UALR scholarships for non-traditional students:
James H. Fribourgh Scholarship
Awarded to undergraduate students with priority given to part-time, particularly non-traditional students. Consideration will be given to the student's potential rather than their past academic history.
Ledbetter Non-Traditional Endowed Scholarship
Awarded to full-time or part-time undergraduate students with an intended or declared major who are seeking a first baccalaureate degree. Applicants must be 25 years of age or older. Academic accomplishment and financial need will be considered.
Rudolph S. and Margaretta B. Graham Scholarship Fund
Awarded to full-time or part-time undergraduates who are residents of Arkansas. Applicants must be a non-traditional student with a preference given to single parents. The primary intent of this scholarship is to benefit hardworking average students who would otherwise not normally receive scholarship assistance because of having non-competitive grade point averages. The award is available to entering freshmen and is renewable for four years if the student continues to meet the criteria.
2012-13 Osher Reentry Scholarship Application A tremendous scholarship opportunity has been granted by the Bernard Osher Foundation for UALR students starting in Fall 2012. The purpose of the Osher Reentry Scholarship program is to provide scholarship grants to 4-year institutions of higher education to assist non-traditional, reentry students with tuition expenses exclusively.
The Phyllis A. Keltner Foundation for Women Scholarship gives UALR students who are single mothers with dependent children an incredible opportunity to overcome some of the many difficult financial hurdles in getting a college education and to provide secure futures for their families. The scholarship covers the cost of tuition and fees up to 12 hours enrollment, as well as books and supplies up to $300 per semester. Award amounts will be adjusted based on each recipient's actual enrollment. Recipients of the Phyllis A. Keltner Foundation for Women Scholarship may enroll in more than 12 hours per semester, but will be responsible for paying the additional charges. Scholarships are renewable each year upon reapplication.