Governor Mike Beebe announced August 28 that Arkansas high-school graduates who thought it impossible to continue their education because of financial difficulties might now find it possible with the assistance of the GO! Opportunities Grant.
The grant is the first state-funded college grant program in Arkansas that is based entirely on financial needs. The grant will provide $1,000 per academic year to full-time students taking 12 credit hours their first semester and 15 credit hours the following semesters. Qualifying part-time students taking at least six credit hours may receive $500 per year.
Students must come from a family earning a $25,000 annual gross income a year or less with one dependent child and an additional $5,000 a year for every additional dependent child as recorded on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Additional requirements include being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, residing in Arkansas for at least 12 months prior to application, graduating from an Arkansas high school or receiving a General Education Development (GED) degree, and enrolling in an eligible Arkansas higher-education institute within a year of their graduation or GED test completion. Prospective students must be enrolled in an undergraduate program that will lead to their receiving an associate or bachelor's degree.
To continue receiving the benefits of the GO! Opportunities Grant students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average and sign a waiver saying they will stay drug free and verify that while receiving the aid. Students who continue meeting the eligibility standards set forth by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education may renew the grant for up to a total amount of $4,000.
For those students who may receive additional scholarships based on grades or financial needs, the GO! Opportunities Grant may be stacked onto those scholarships as long as the sum of all of the scholarships does not exceed the cost to attend the institute of higher education. If the sum of these scholarships does exceed that amount, then some of the scholarships will be reduced.
In a state where only 19 percent of adults over the age of 25 hold a bachelor's degree the grant will "make sure that higher education is available to every willing and eligible Arkansas student," Beebe said. The goal is to further the education of Arkansas youths and hopefully increase their lifetime earnings by more than $1 million.
To be considered for the GO! Opportunities Grant, students must complete the application provided by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education at their Web site www.adhe.edu or by requesting an application by calling 1-800-54-STUDY (1-800-547-8839). An official high school transcript or certification of GED test completion must be submitted to the ADHE. Parents must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to show financial eligibility. The deadline for fall 2007 freshmen is October 1.
Funding was made possible during the 2007 legislative session when the 86th General Assembly approved $18.4 million for the next two years. AT&T and The Charles A. Frueauff Foundation will provide additional funding to promote the program statewide.