Getting (And Keeping!) The Academic Challenge Scholarship

By Samuel G. Smith on Thursday, June 28, 2012

Scholarships like the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship make higher education a reality for thousands of students in Arkansas every year. But with the stress of transitioning to college and the distractions that come with it, getting them is only half the battle. Here's how to get — and keep — one of the most popular scholarships from the state.

How to get it: The Challenge Scholarship requires a 2.5 high school GPA or an ACT composite score of 19. Before you can apply for the Challenge Scholarship, you have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at You should do this anyway to be eligible for federal aid like the Pell grant, work-study programs and federal student loans. Complete the FAFSA as soon as you can in January of your senior year in high school. Once your application process is complete, fill out the Arkansas state scholarship application at before the June 1 deadline. Read the full list of Academic Challenge Scholarship requirements here.

How to keep it: Maintain a 2.50 cumulative GPA and complete 27 credit hours the first academic year, and 30 credit hours for every subsequent year. In most cases, that means taking four classes your first semester in college and at least five every semester after it. Your academic adviser will be able to help you arrange classes to meet scholarship requirements, so all you have to worry about is keeping your grades up.

The Academic Challenge Scholarship gives $4,500 for a freshman at a four-year university, and $2,250 for a student at a two-year college. As long as you meet the requirements, this amount is renewable for the length of your degree.

Curious for more? Check out our breakdown of the different types of financial aid, including scholarships, grants and loans, at our Financial Aid 101 guide.