CONWAY, Ark. (KTHV) - Graduating high school seniors banking on an extra $4,500 to pay for college this fall received some bad news this year. The legislature created a tiered structure for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship (also known as the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship), meaning incoming freshmen will now get less than half that amount.
Now instead of giving all students the same amount, freshmen will receive $2,000, sophomores $3,000, juniors $4,000 and seniors $5,000, so the longer they stay in school, the more scholarship money students can get.
"I wanted to go to this private school so that's the only reason I really got to come here was because I had that money," said Lacie Mayo, who is studying psychology and social services at Central Baptist College in Conway (CBC)--a school she almost could not afford.
Five-thousand dollars from the Arkansas Challenge Scholarship got Mayo in the door at CBC, but for new students this fall, the same scholarship will be less than half that amount. Since the legislature cut the scholarship amount for freshmen to $2,000 this year, CBC is helping parents meet the difference.
"Many families were depending on that money," explained Central Baptist College President Terry Kimbrow. "We are making up for the entire shortfall for the incoming freshmen. We are giving $2,500 to all incoming freshmen that qualify and apply by June 1, which is the deadline for the Arkansas Academic Challenge."
And, they aren't the only ones. At least three other private colleges and the two largest public universities in the state are pitching in to help their freshmen students. Philander Smith College is offering $2,500, Hendrix College $2,000, Williams Baptist College $1,000, University of Arkansas $1,000 and University of Central Arkansas $750.
Mayo is happy about the incentive CBC is offering, so more students will have a chance to go to college where they want to and not where they have to.
"I just love it here so much, and it's just a part of me, and I love telling new students about this school," said Mayo.
The extra money these universities are offering is just for the 2013 incoming freshmen. Many of them say since parents had such little time to prepare for the change, it only seemed like the right thing to do.
Central Baptist College said right now 25 percent of their students receive aid from the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship. It's funded primarily by the state lottery and tax payer dollars.