LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Mike Beebe will ask a legislative committee for approval to spend $1.1 million in state rainy day funds to help some students pay for graduate medical programs, such as veterinary medicine or dentistry, in other states, he said Wednesday.
Because the state does not have a dental school or veterinary school, the Arkansas Health Education Grant Program is available to state students needing financial help to offset out-of-state tuition costs at institutions in other states.
The grant program also covers out-of-state-training for Arkansas students in graduate fields such as optometry and osteopathic medicine, with the idea that those students, after their education is complete, return to practice in Arkansas.
In May, students wishing to attend veterinary school at Louisiana State University were notified that funds were not available through the grant program this fall because of a shortfall.
Arkansas Higher Education Director Shane Broadway said earlier this year the costs of 23 different financial aid programs offered by the department have exceeded the $28 million budgeted annually by the Legislature. Previously, the excess costs were covered by one-time year-end reserves, he said.
“The rainy day money will help more students pursue their professional training, but it is only a one-year solution,” Beebe said in a news release, adding that the Legislative Council’s Peer Review Committee will be asked at its July 11 meeting to endorse his proposal.
“The Legislature will have to make funding decisions for the next three years of these students’ grants, and whether will be available to maintain ARHEG financial aid in the future,” Beebe said.