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The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery

by Staff Author · Published December 4, 2017 · Updated December 4, 2019

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has funded more than 270,000 scholarships for college students throughout the state. Since 2009, a total of $700 million in in-state tuition expenses have been granted. The program aims to help students pay for their education while providing a valuable source of entertainment for the community. If you’re an Arkansas resident planning to attend college within the state, this could lower the cost of your education. Here is an overview of how the scholarship works and what it could do for you.

How It Works

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has several games available. This includes Powerball, Mega Millions, Lucky for Life, Cash 3, Cash 4, and Instant Games (scratch-offs). When someone buys a lottery ticket for one of those games, a large portion of the revenue goes to find Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships. Some money is reserved for lottery winners and for retailers who sell tickets, but millions of dollars are reserved purely for college scholarships. These awards are for Arkansas residents who attend college within the state.

Where to Apply

Arkansas residents can apply for lottery scholarships through the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. There are various awards available. This includes awards for upcoming high school graduates, current college students, former college students and high school graduates that have never attended college. As long as you have lived in Arkansas for at least 12 months and plan to stay in-state for college, you could be eligible for an ongoing scholarship. Application deadlines are posted on the department’s website, but they typically fall on June 1st.

Awards Available through the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Program

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery funds the Academic Challenge Scholarship. This award is divided into two categories: one for high school students and one for non-traditional students. The scholarship amounts are the same for both versions, but the eligibility requirements are slightly different.

Currently, the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship provides $1,000 for the first year; $4,000 for the second year; $4,000 for the third year and $5,000 for the fourth year. Students attending two-year colleges will receive $1,000 the first year and $3,000 the second year.

Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship for High School Students

If you are a high school student entering college after you graduate, all you need to qualify for an Academic Challenge Scholarship is an ACT score of 19 or higher. The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery program will also accept ACT equivalents. Accepted scores include 900 for the verbal and math sections of the SAT, a 40 ASSET score, a 64 COMPASS score, or a 79 ACCUPLACER score.

Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship for Nontraditional Students

Non-traditional students are those who do not enter college immediately after high school graduation. For instance, if you graduated from high school several years ago without attending college, you would be considered a non-traditional student. In this case, you need to have a 19 ACT score or higher, as well as a 2.5 GPA from an Arkansas high school or a 2.5 GPA after 12 hours of college courses.

Maintaining Eligibility for an Arkansas Lottery Scholarship

If you earn a scholarship through the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, you must meet certain requirements to maintain eligibility during your second, third and fourth years in school. You must successfully complete 27 semester hours of college during your first year of college and 30 semester hours every year after that. You can still be eligible for a scholarship as a part-time student, but your award amount will be reduced.

Moreover, you must maintain a GPA of 2.5 while in college to continue receiving an Arkansas Lottery scholarship. You must be continuously enrolled in school. If you take a semester off, your scholarship will be placed on hold. You can only do this for a maximum of two semesters. The scholarship is eligible for renewal upon completing 130 semester hours, yet you meet all of these eligibility requirements.

If your degree requires you to be in school for longer than 130 semester hours, the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship committee will evaluate your circumstances. They will determine whether or not they will renew your award again. Furthermore, if you earn a bachelor’s degree before this benchmark, you will not be eligible for additional funding.

Need help finding scholarships? We have tips on where you can find some!

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Learn about the eligibility requirements and award amounts for the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery program, along with other scholarship application tips.

Arkansas lottery scholarship amount

Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship

DEADLINE: JULY 1

OPENS: OCTOBER 1

The Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship (Arkansas Challenge) provides assistance to Arkansas residents pursing a higher education and is partially funded by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery and is the most common form of state aid available. There is a traditional and non-traditional Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship.

Who qualifies?

In addition to the general state requirements, students must also meet one of these criteria:

  • Any Arkansas high school graduate with a final GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • Any Arkansas resident
    • with an ACT score of 19 or higher OR
    • who has earned at least 12 college credit hours and a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher

NOTE: Students with college credit must submit an official transcript from each college attended.

How much is the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship?

Arkansas Challenge is a graduated scale award:

  • First Year: $1,000 or $500 each semester
  • Second Year: $4,000 or $2,000 each semester
  • Third Year: $4,000 or $2,000 each semester
  • Fourth Year: $5,000 or $2,500 each semester

NOTE: These awards are based on semester payments. So a student who receives their first semester payment in the “First Year” and the second semester payment in their “Second Year” would still have two equal payments of $500 each semester. The semester payment will not increase just because a student changes in grade level.

NOTE: For first-time entering freshman who have earned college credit while attending high school (concurrent enrollment), those students may choose to start at the higher level based upon their earned college credit (concurrent) and forego the first semester scholarship, or they may choose to enter as a first-time entering freshman at the $1,000 annual level, not using the earned college credit (concurrent). Please contact ADHE for more information.

What is the difference between the Traditional and Non-Traditional Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarships?

The Traditional Arkansas Challenge is for graduating seniors who are entering into college in the same year.

The Non-Traditional Arkansas Challenge is for any student who graduated from high school more than a year prior to completing the YOUniversal Application. This includes students who do not start college directly after high school completion or currently enrolled college students.

How many hours are required for the Traditional Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship?

A student must enroll in at least 15 credit hours each semester to receive the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship for that semester. The only exceptions include the student’s first semester in which the student is required to enroll in at least 12 hours and the student’s 7 th and 8 th semester on scholarship.

Hours taken during the 7 th or 8 th semester on scholarship, can enroll in less than the required 15 hours, however, the award amount will pro-rate as follows:

  • 15+ credit hours = full award;
  • 9-14 credit hours = ¾ award;
  • 6-8 credit hours = ½ award
  • 1-5 credit hours = no award

NOTE: Even if a student is graduating with a Bachelor’s degree at the end of a semester, the student must be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours to receive challenge funds.

Applies to both Traditional and Non-Traditional Challenge recipients.

NOTE: Even if a student takes extra hours in the fall semester, the student must still be enrolled in at least 15 credit hours in the spring semester for the award to pay. The Arkansas Academic Challenge cannot be applied to courses taken in the summer term.

What is the renewal criteria for the Traditional Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship?

To renew the Traditional Arkansas Challenge, a student must complete a total of 30 credit hours for the academic year with a cumulative 2.5 GPA for all college courses. The only exception is for the student’s first academic year; they are only required to complete a total of 27 credit hours.

NOTE: Renewal criteria is separate from semester criteria. If a student is unable to complete 30 credit hours for the academic year due to course failure or withdrawal, the student may make up the hours in the summer term; however, the student will be responsible to request from Registrar an official transcript with the summer coursework be sent to ADHE by October 1 st .

How many hours are required for the Non-Traditional Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship?

A student must enroll in at least 6 credit hours each semester to receive the Non-Traditional Arkansas Challenge for that semester; however, the Non-Traditional Arkansas Challenge is prorated based on enrollment.

  • 15+ credit hours = Full semester award
  • 9-14 credit hours = ¾ semester award
  • 6-8 credit hours = ½ semester award
  • Less than 6 credit hours = no award

What is the renewal criteria for the Non-Traditional Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship?

To renew the Non-Traditional Arkansas Challenge, a student must complete the number of credit hours for which the student was awarded with a cumulative 2.5 GPA for all college courses. This means if a student is awarded for 15 hours for the fall and 12 hours for the spring, the student must complete at least 24 credit hours (15 credit hours’ full award + 9-14 credit hours ¾ award) to renew the Non-Traditional Arkansas Challenge scholarship for the following year.

NOTE: If a student is unable to complete courses due to course failure or withdrawal, the student may make up the hours in the summer term; however, the student will be responsible to request from Records an official transcript with the summer coursework be sent to ADHE by October 1 st .

Do I have to apply every year?

No. Once you are awarded the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship the award will automatically renew as long as you meet the renewal criteria. The Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship is renewable for up to 4 years.

For more information for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship, please review the ADHE overview.

Arkansas lottery scholarship amount Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship DEADLINE: JULY 1 OPENS: OCTOBER 1 The Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship (Arkansas Challenge)