Scholarship deadline extended in tornado-damaged counties

LITTLE ROCK — The state Department of Higher Education said Tuesday it is extending the deadline to apply for and accept financial aid in five counties that received tornado and flood damage last week.

Also, state finance and labor officials said the expansion of a federal disaster declaration to include Pulaski, Randolph and White counties, in addition to the earlier declaration for Faulkner County, means that residents of those counties may be eligible for tax relief and disaster unemployment assistance.

ADHE said the deadline to apply for and accept aid including the Academic Challenge Scholarship has been extended to July 1 for residents of Faulkner, Independence, Pulaski, Randolph and White counties, all of which Gov. Mike Beebe declared state disaster areas following last week’s tornado and floods.

The deadline remains June 1 for the rest of the state.

ADHE also said it would have employees stationed at Mayflower and Vilonia high schools through Friday, and longer if necessary, to assist applicants, and that colleges and universities across the state have employees available to help people who have lost documents required for applications.

The agency also noted that a person who has been approved for a scholarship can put it on hold for a year if circumstances have made it impossible to enroll this fall.

The state Department of Finance and Administration said Tuesday that residents and businesses in Faulkner, Pulaski, Randolph and White counties can contact it to obtain an extension of the tax deadline if the severe weather had affected their ability to pay sales taxes, withholding taxes, corporate income taxes or other state taxes.

Also, interest and penalties that normally would accrue will be abated if failure to pay is the result of storm damage, DF&A said.

The agency said some may wish to include losses from the disaster on their income tax returns or amended returns for 2013. Such losses are treated for tax purposes as having occurred in the preceding tax year. Taxpayers may want to contact a tax professional for advice, DF&A said.

Also Tuesday, the state Department of Workforce Services said people who have temporarily lost work because of tornado or flood damage in Faulkner, Pulaski, Randolph or White county may be eligible for disaster unemployment assistance.

Claims will be received at the DWS offices in Little Rock, Jacksonville, Walnut Ridge, Searcy and Conway. Benefits can be collected starting this week; the last week they can be collected is the week ending Nov. 1.