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Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship

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General Information

Important Note: The following information is intended as a general overview of the program for those who are applying, or who are considering applying, for the scholarship and is not intended to be a comprehensive compilation of program requirements. For complete information, please refer to the program’s rules and regulations.

The Arkansas Academic Challenge Program provides scholarships to Arkansas residents pursuing higher education. Funded in large part by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship is available to students regardless of their academic status, whether just graduating from high school, currently enrolled in college, enrolling in college for the first time, or re-enrolling after a period of time out of college. 

Arkansas Scholarship Stacking Law

Application Deadline

The application deadline is July 1 of a student’s senior year in high school.

Arkansas Academic Challenge Award Amounts

Students who were originally awarded prior to the 2016-17 school year are awarded at the following rates:

  Four Year College Two Year College
Year 1 $2000 $2000
Year 2 $3000 $2000
Year 3 $4000 -
Year 4 $5000 -

 

Starting with the 2016-17 school year, students are awarded at the following rates:

     
Year 1 $1000 $1000
Year 2 $4000 $3000
Year 3 $4000 -
Year 4 $5000 -

Eligibility Requirements

The Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship's eligibility requirements are based on two student categories: Traditional (Incoming Freshman) and Nontraditional Students.

Basic Eligibility Criteria:

An applicant must:

  • Be an Arkansas resident (at least 12 months prior to enrollment) and US citizen/lawful permanent resident
  • Be accepted for admission at an approved institution of higher education in a program of study that leads to a baccalaureate degree, associate degree, qualified certificate, or a nursing school diploma
  • Not have earned a baccalaureate degree
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (although there is no maximum income)
  • Not owe a refund on a federal or state student financial aid grant for higher education
  • Not be in default on a federal or state student financial aid loan for higher education
  • Not borrowed in excess of annual federal loan limits
  • Not be incarcerated at the time of application for or during the time the applicant receives the scholarship
  • Complied with the United States Selective Service System requirements for registration
  • Certify to be drug-free

Additional Eligibility Criteria for the Traditional Student:

  • Enroll full-time each semester (Fall and Spring) - 12 hours the fall semester immediately following high school graduation and 15 hours each semester thereafter. Students must enroll in required hours at one institution. 
    • Students who complete their bachelor's degree at the end of a term may be enrolled in less than 15 hours and still be awarded a prorated award amount based on their hours
  • Students who graduate after 2010 must also meet the following:
  1. Graduate from an Arkansas public high school and has a minimum composite or superscore of nineteen (19) on the ACT (On-site ACT permissible) or the equivalent score on an ACT equivalent test
  2. Applicant who has  a disability identified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20U.S.C.§ 1400 et seq., as it existed on July 1, 2009, and graduated from an Arkansas public high school, and:
    • Achieve a minimum composite or superscore of nineteen (19) on the ACT or the equivalent score on an ACT equivalent
  3. Graduate from a private or out-of-state or home school high school and achieve a minimum composite or superscore of nineteen (19) on the ACT or the equivalent score on an ACT equivalent.
  4. Students who are enrolled as a full-time, first-time freshman but not receiving the Arkansas Academic Challenge will also be considered Traditional if they meet the following:
    • Successfully completed at least twenty-seven (27) semester hours in the academic year immediately following high school graduation; and
    • Achieved a postsecondary grade point average of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale as a full-time, first-time freshman.

Request to Forfeit Freshman Award Amount

If you are an Arkansas high school senior who has/will earn 27 college credit hours or more prior to beginning college in the Fall (after your senior year), you may be eligible to request an increase in Arkansas Academic Challenge funding from the freshmen level to the sophomore/junior level. By receiving the higher level, you agree to forfeit the first semesters of eligible funding of Arkansas Academic Challenge. Requests to forfeit the freshman award amount are due by July 1.  

Request to Forfeit Freshman Award Amount Form

Continuing Eligibility Criteria

SPECIAL EXCEPTION FOR COVID-19:  If you were enrolled in the required number of hours on MARCH 20, 2020, you meet continued eligibility criteria for the Fall 2020 semester.  This means you must have earned the correct number of hours in the FALL 2019 semester.  If you compensated for fewer hours in Fall 2019 by enrolling in extra hours during the Spring 2020 semester and were still enrolled in the required hours (plus the make-up hours) on March 20, 2020, you have met eligibility.  If you were not enrolled in the required hours in Fall 2019 and planned to make up those hours in the Summer 2020 term, you will need to enroll in the correct number of deficient hours for the summer to maintain eligibility.      

  1. Maintain a 2.50 cumulative GPA
  2. Complete 27 semester hours the first academic year and 30 semester hours each year thereafter
  3. Complete all remedial courses during the first 30 hours taken after receipt of the scholarship
  4. Be continuously enrolled unless student request for scholarship to be placed on hold (Maximum hold of 4 semesters)
  5. Shall enroll in courses that lead toward a baccalaureate degree after:
    • Earning an Associates Degree; or
    • Having less than four semesters of funding left.
  6. Will be renewed until recipient first:
    • Earns a Baccalaureate degree
    • Attempts a total of 130 semester hours in 8 semesters
    • Starting with 2016 awardees, students will be renewed until the student attempts a total of 120 semester hours or receives 8 semesters of funding, whichever comes first.
      NOTE: If the recipient’s undergraduate degree requires additional hours, ADHE, in conjunction with the student’s institution, shall determine the maximum period of time for renewal.

Additional Eligibility Criteria for the Nontraditional Student:

  • Enroll full-time or part-time each semester (Fall and Spring) - Full-time = 15 hours, Part-time = at least 6 hours
  • Meet one of the following criteria:
  1. If the applicant has not been enrolled in an approved institution of higher education, has either:
    • Graduated from an Arkansas public high school and achieved a 2.5 high school grade point average; or
    • Graduated from an Arkansas public high school, a private high school, an out-of-state high school, a home school high school, or obtained a high school equivalency diploma approved by the Division of Career and Technical Education and had a minimum composite score of nineteen (19) on the ACT (On-site ACT permissible) or the equivalent score on an ACT equivalent; or 
  2. If the applicant has been enrolled in an approved institution of higher education, has earned a postsecondary grade point average of at least 2.5 in completed courses.

Continuing Eligibility Criteria

  1. Maintain a 2.50 cumulative GPA (will be evaluated at the end of each Spring term)
  2. Complete 15 hours each consecutive semester for full-time and complete at least 6 semester hours for part-time (excluding summer terms)
  3. Be continuously enrolled unless student request for scholarship to be placed on hold (Maximum hold of 4 semesters)
  4. Shall enroll in courses that lead toward a baccalaureate degree after:
  • Earning an Associates Degree; or
  • Having less than four semesters of funding left.

      5. Will be renewed until recipient first:

  • Earns a Baccalaureate degree
  • Attempts a total of 130 semester hours in 8 semesters (full time) or up to 16 semesters (part-time)
  • Starting with 2016 awardees, students will be renewed until the student attempts a total of 120 semester hours, receives 8 semesters of funding, or the student earns a Baccalaureate degree, whichever comes first.
    NOTE: If the recipient’s undergraduate degree requires additional hours, ADHE, in conjunction with the student’s institution, shall determine the maximum period of time for renewal.

Graduate School Information

Those that graduate from undergrad early have the option to use the remaining semesters for graduate school.

There are a few rules that come with this option, listed below:

  • The Graduate school must be based in Arkansas.
  • Student must be accepted and start the graduate program the semester immediately following their undergraduate graduation (summer semesters not included).
  • If a student has an extenuating circumstance, they can have their scholarship held up to a year
  • Student must complete 30 hours with a 2.5+ GPA for the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 year to be awarded the scholarship for the Fall 2021/Spring 2022 year.

The scholarship amount for graduate school is based on the hours you are enrolled in. Seniors receive $2,500 a semester, if enrolled in 9 or more hours. Below is a chart of the proration.

  • Enrolled in 3-5 hours= 50%
  • Enrolled in 6-8 hours= 75%
  • Enrolled in 9+ hours=100%

To request your remaining semesters be used for graduate school, please submit your Graduate Acceptance Letter. 

Graduate Acceptance Letter Submission >

ACT Equivalency Chart

These tests below will not be superscored.

New SAT (Test taken March 2016 or later) 990
ASSET (average of all subscores) 40
COMPASS (average of Reading, Writing, and Algebra scores) 64
ACCUPLACER (average of all subscores) 79
Next-Generation ACCUPLACER (average of Reading, Writing, and Math scores) all three scores must be on one test 246
Disclaimer: The laws, rules, regulations, award amounts, amount of awardees, eligibility criteria, funding per program, etc. are subject to change at any point prior to, during or after application through the YOUniversal application. These changes will be based on changes in law or funding provided by the Arkansas General Assembly. It is understood that ADHE is not at fault for any changes that occur to any financial aid program. In addition, awards for all ADHE programs are limited by the availability of funds.