How to Go to School for Free
Who doesn’t like free stuff — especially free money? Well, with the right scholarships and grants, your education can be free, or at least a lot less expensive. Unfortunately, a lagging economy has made scholarship money harder to find. While the Arkansas Department of Higher Education still wants students to apply for its scholarships, it also suggests that you look for other sources of help, too.
Check out Arkansashighered.com. Download applications or call (501) 371-2000 to find out more.
• Academic Challenge Scholarship — This scholarship provides up to $3,500 annually for graduating high school seniors who complete the precollegiate core curriculum, have the required grade point average in those courses, achieve a 19 on the ACT and demonstrate financial need.
• Arkansas Health Education Grant Program — This grant is open to students seeking professional training in chiropractic medicine, dentistry, optometry, osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine and veterinary medicine to allow them to attend out-of-state institutions.
• Governor’s Scholarship Program — This scholarship provides up to $4,000 annually for graduating high school seniors based on academic achievement, test scores and leadership. The Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship is available for those who score 32 on the ACT or 1410 on the SAT and have a 3.50 academic grade point average, or for those who are named a National Merit Finalist or National Achievement Scholar. It pays tuition, mandatory fees, room and board up to $10,000 per year.
• Law Enforcement Officers’ Dependents Scholarship Program — This scholarship pays tuition, fees and room at any public college, university or technical institute in Arkansas for dependents of state law enforcement officers, some Highway and Transportation Department employees, and other public employees who were killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty.
• MIA/KIA Dependents Scholarship Program — The MIA/KIA program waives tuition, fees, room and board at any public college, university or technical institute in Arkansas for dependents and spouses of Arkansans who were killed or missing in action or who were prisoners of war.
• Minority Teachers Scholarship — Up to $5,000 annually is available for African-American, Asian-American, Native American and Hispanic college juniors and seniors working toward teacher certification. Recipients must teach three to five years in Arkansas to receive loan forgiveness.
• State Teacher Assistance Resource (STAR) Program — This program is for people who want to teach math, science, special education or foreign languages and are willing to teach in an area of Arkansas with a critical shortage of teachers. Eligible students may receive up to $6,000 per year or a total of up to $18,000 in scholarship money for a five-year education degree program.
The Arkansas Department of Education has two scholarships available. The Robert C. Byrd Scholarship Program offers scholarships to Arkansas graduates who have been accepted to an institution of higher learning and who show outstanding achievement in school. The Daisy and L.C. Bates Minority Scholarship Program gives qualifying minority students money to attend Arkansas colleges or universities.
For info on hundreds of scholarships available across the state, take a look at the Arkansas Scholarship Connection at Arkansasscholarshipconnection.org.
The Cost of College
The cost to attend college is more than just tuition. You also have to consider the price of books, supplies, room and board, fees and transportation. It really adds up fast.
Below is a comparison of the average cost to attend school in Arkansas vs. the rest of the country. To keep it consistent, the price for in-state students was used to find the average costs.
In academic year 2002–03, the average total price for full-time undergraduates to attend four-year institutions — including tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, and other education expenses, as estimated by the institutions — was more than $12,800 at public institutions and almost $28,000 at private institutions.
A recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “How Families of Low- and Middle-Income Undergraduates Pay for College: Full-Time Dependent Students in 1999–2000,” provides much-needed information on the resources students and their families use to bear the burden of college costs.