Too many students got too much money from two Arkansas universities that exceeded the state-set amount that could be spent on scholarships, but there’s no penalty for doing so.=
The University of Central Arkansas in Conway and Arkansas Tech University in Russellville spent more than the state limit of 30 percent of students’ tuition and fees on academic and performance scholarships during the 2006-07 school year, according to a report by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
UCA awarded 3,328 scholarships totaling $62.7 million during the 2006-07 academic year. That amounted to 31.7 percent of the school’s income from tuition and fees. Arkansas Tech gave out 1,511 scholarships totaling $8.9 million, which was 30.2 percent of its tuition and fee income.
“Obviously they need to go by the law, and they might consider using some private money to offset that,” said Rep. Bill Abernathy, D-Mena.
The law was passed in 2005 to keep public schools from unfairly competing for top students, Abernathy said.
UCA officials say it’s tough to predict how many students will accept scholarships, which can lead to exceeding the cap.
“We are moving very solidly in the right direction in meeting the spirit of the law,” UCA President Lu Hardin said.
Arkansas Tech exceeded the cap because of a retention program, said Susie Nicholson, assistant to the president for university relations.
“We have more students staying in school and keeping their grades up to hang on to their scholarships,” Nicholson said. “That’s a good thing for Arkansas.”
In comparison, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock spent 8.1 percent of tuition and fees on scholarships, while the University of Arkansas Fayetteville spent about 9.6 percent. This year, the Fayetteville campus expects to be at about 8 percent.
“That’s a number that our board feels comfortable with and it is of course a part of the total scholarship story,” UA-Fayetteville Provost Bob Smith said. “A significant source is private funds.”
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com
The Associated Press
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