Discretionary scholarship records remain closed | Arkansas Blog

Discretionary scholarship records remain closed

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UCA received an opinion today from the United States Department of Education regarding the release of the names of presidential discretionary scholarship recipients under former UCA president Lu Hardin.  According to the opinion, the school should not release the names of those recipients.  UCA interim president Tom Courtway sought the opinion in light of Freedom of Information Act requests on behalf of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and because he felt releasing the names would have violated federal student privacy laws thereby making the university inelligible to receive federal funds. 

The discretionary scholarship program was controversial because the awards were given out by former president Lu Hardin without any criteria or accountability.  The opinion says that the recipeints' records should not be released for exactly that reason. 

"If a scholarship is considered an honor or award based on academic or athletic or other achievement, the University could disclose that category of information and the amount of the award... However, this would not be the case in situations where the basis for the scholarship is undefinied or could be need based or related to a student's financial aid."

Some of those scholarships could have been granted because of financial need.  But, as others have pointed out, it's more likely those scholarships went not to students who needed the money, but the well-connected.  UCA said they would have no further comment on the opinion.  The UCA board voted in March to end the controversial program.  They are currently creating a new discretionary scholarship program where awards will be merit or need-based. 

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