Gov. Mike Beebe has prompted a further release of lottery money that he estimates will put scholarship cash in the pockets of another 1,400 college students. His office's release:
After receiving previously unreleased figures from the Arkansas Lottery Commission about available scholarship monies, Governor Mike Beebe has asked the Arkansas Department of Higher Education to fund an additional $5.9 million in lottery scholarships.
"Every incoming freshman who qualified for a lottery scholarship has received one, as have all current college students who have sustained enough credit hours throughout their time in school," Beebe said. "This additional money will allow immediate scholarships to go to more students on the waiting list who are close to completing college and earning a degree."
The additional funding will provide scholarships for the approximately 400 students remaining on the two-year institution waiting list, and for nearly 1,000 students on the four-year institution waiting list.
I have some reporting on the jump, but I'd first like to post the governor's office response to commenters who say they believe qualified applicants have been denied scholarships:
If they send you any information about their specific application that they believe was mishandled or misprocessed, let us know and we’ll get it to the right people at Higher Ed for review.
Again: We're happy to mediate and find out what the situation is.
1) explanations for the $5.9 million miracle. Was somebody trying to build too big a cushion? Can't cipher? What? UPDATE: Beebe's spokesman Matt DeCample says the governor's office first became aware from newspaper reporting today that more money might be available than previously thought. It checked with the Lottery Commission, which confirmed the availability of more money, and Beebe urged that it be transferred.
2) A full breakdown of the numbers on applications. It's been reported that more than 25,000 have received money and 29,000 or so received nothing. Sounds like a lot of disappointment. But that's not a full or accurate picture. As I understand it — and DeCample confirms — every qualifying recent high school graduate and every qualifying "current achiever," or a continuous full-time college student with acceptable grades, received a scholarship.
But thousands of applications came from people who were ineligible or didn't complete the application — 17,000 or so. The source of most complaints is the "non-traditional student." These are students who haven't been continuous full-time students as defined by law (at least 12 hours a semester continuously). With today's money release, some 4,000 or so of those students are still on a waiting list for money. But every single qualifying non-traditional two-year student has qualified for money. Many of these students still on the waiting list have been confused because they've been continuous students and thought they would qualify. But they haven't continuously taken the required number of semester hours.
The final bottom line seems to be that all but 4,000 to 4,500 of 30,000 qualifying applicants received money. All those on the waiting list are four-year, "non-traditional" students. The law had never guaranteed that all those would be covered.