12,000 graduating seniors accept lottery scholarships


LITTLE ROCK — About 12,000 graduating Arkansas high school seniors have accepted lottery-funded scholarships for the coming school year, the state’s top higher education official told state legislators Wednesday.

Shane Broadway, interim director of the state Department of Higher Education, told the Arkansas Lottery Commission Legislative Oversight Committee that another 202 students are eligible and awaiting notification; 32 have declined a scholarship; 319 applied but were ineligible; 1,536 have been notified they are eligible but have not yet responded; 58 have put their awards on hold for a year for various reasons; and 4,577 began but failed to complete applications before Saturday’s deadline.

Higher Education officials had said last week that 5,300 students had not completed their applications. Broadway said Wednesday that the number dropped quickly after the news media reported on the number of incomplete applications.

Typically, about 4,500 students fail to complete applications for the scholarship each year, he said.

A total of 18,731 graduating seniors applied for the lottery-funded Academic Challenge Scholarship, Broadway said. Also, 11,925 nontraditional students have applied.

No scholarships have yet been awarded to nontraditional students. The Legislature has capped the amount that can be spent on scholarships for nontraditional students at $12 million per year, but there is no cap on scholarships for traditional students, which are awarded first.

Earlier this year the Legislature raised the cap for nontraditional students to $16 million, but the change does not go into effect until the 2014-15 school year.

Broadway urged legislators to encourage their constituents who have applied for scholarships to log in and accept their award and make sure their college and email are correct.

“A lot of times they will apply thinking they’re going to one college, and between then and now they’ve changed their mind on where they’re going but they don’t log back in to change it,” he said.

Broadway said one glitch occurred in the application process this year: In an effort to heighten awareness of the scholarship program, higher education officials sent a letter about the program to every graduating senior in the state — but some did not receive the letter until after the deadline to apply had passed.

“In case you receive any calls from a constituent who received that letter late, I sincerely apologize. The printer has taken responsibility for it and is going to reimburse us the cost of that (mailing), about $14,000,” he said.

Broadway said most who received the letter late had already applied, but at least 10 had not.

“We’re going to work individually with them to get them manually entered into the system,” he said.

State Lottery Director Bishop Woosley also addressed the panel, reporting that a $590 million Powerball jackpot last month boosted ticket sales, partially making up for a slump in sales earlier in the fiscal year.

Woosley said he was “hopeful” that the lottery’s net revenue for scholarships for the fiscal year that ends June 30 would be $90 million or $91 million, but “we have to wait and see.”