Here's a link to the Arkansas section of the national report card on each state's effort in providing higher education to its citizenry.You couldn't graduate from college with these grades.
The big fat F in affordability is the single biggest obstacle to an improvement in our college-going rate. It should be a caution to legislators preparing to decide how to award college scholarships from the lottery proceeds, however big or small the proceeds may be. (Affordability is a growing national problem, of course.)
We already have a surplus in state-funded merit scholarships. This alone -- along with the affordability "F" -- should persuade lawmakers not to make lottery scholarships another playground of the middle- and upper-class, the kids from educated families who are already college bound no matter the cost and who, by virtue of their upbringing, tend to score higher in high school. We're not going to expand the college-going pool unless we broaden the availability of money. I'm not talking about needs-based awards. I'm talking about a lower standard on grades and entrance exams for eligibility and a meaningful, but realistic, standard for retention of scholarship money. Perhaps the NCAA standard for a free ride for jocks at the UA and ASU would be a fair standard for students interested only in education while in college.
The truth is that the best thing the state could do is to grab control of the higher education system, eliminate the warring duchys and devote a substantial sum -- from the lottery or wherever -- to reducing tuition. A state higher ed authority could put a governor on individual colleges' eternal yen to raise tuition to pay for the ever higher salaries of administrators and other "necessities."