Colleges and universities across Arkansas will have to find ways to keep enrollment up, now that there will be significant cuts to state scholarship programs.
When the Arkansas Department of Higher Education didn’t get the additional $7 million it requested from the state legislature to shore up expected shortfalls, President Terry Kimbrow of Central Baptist College in Conway knew his team had to act.
Expected cuts meant all higher education institutions in the state could only award incoming freshmen $2,000 for the Academic Challenge Scholarship next year, rather than the normal $4,500.
After conferring with Central Baptist College’s Board of Trustees and faculty, Kimbrow devised a plan that would ensure incoming freshmen to his college receive the full amount they were promised for Academic Challenge Scholarships.
“What we decided was to make up the full shortfall of $2,500 for a year,” said Kimbrow. “We listened to our prospective students and heard from them that they had an expectation of receiving the $4,500 and when it went down to $2,000… for some it was devastating and for many it was the decision maker as to where they would go to college.”
Kimbrow says the additional $2,500 is a big boost for incoming students who do not have the financial resources to attend college without the full award amount.
So far, about 100 incoming freshmen to Central Baptist College will qualify for the Academic Challenge Scholarship. Kimbrow says officials will decide at a later date whether they will maintain that award amount for those first-year students all four years.