Online Colleges in Arkansas
Arkansas has a renewed focus on higher education.
In the past, Arkansas has been successful in recruiting and enrolling college students, but graduation rates have been low. To help encourage degree completion, the state has completely revamped their funding structure.
In February 2017, Gov. Hutchinson signed into law a bill that links college and university funding to performance measures such as graduation rates, rather than enrollment numbers. If the plan is approved, Hutchinson will call for an increase in higher education funding by $10 million in 2018.
This change in funding has affected the state’s colleges and universities, and has enhanced online learning opportunities. It’s an improvement that shows Arkansas values higher education and wants to see students succeed.
Overview of Higher Education in Arkansas
The state of Arkansas has 53 degree-granting institutions for students to choose from, according to a 2015-2016 report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Of the 53, 33 are public, 16 are non-profit and 4 are for-profit institutions.
The average cost of tuition and fees at a 4-year public institution is $8250 for Arkansas residents and $19,420 for those out of state, according to Collegeboard.org’s 2016-2017 report. For in-state students, that’s $1400 less than the national average, and for out-of-state students it’s $5510 less!
As the state implements their new funding structure, the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) Coordinating Board will be at the head. ADHE is a 12-member team that reviews academic programs, administers state financial aid programs, reviews and makes recommendations about institutional budgets and collects data on academic programs.
ADHE also works with the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), a 15-state collaboration focused on sharing resources and initiatives to improve higher education. Through this organization, Arkansas residents are able to pursue degrees at participating states and pay in-state rates.
About Online Colleges in Arkansas
Oftentimes college students drop out because it’s difficult to balance school, work and family. Online programs provide a convenient alternative, allowing students to fit classes in when their schedules allow.
According to a 2012 study by NES, 9.2% of Arkansas undergraduate students are enrolled in fully online degree programs. Another 19.1% participate in a hybrid of online and on-campus classes. That’s significantly higher than the national average of students in hybrid programs (13.3%)!
The University of Arkansas, for example, offers more than 40 online programs, many of which are 100% online. US News and World Reports has recognized the school as among the “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs,” and many of the school’s online graduate programs have been recognized as well!
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Arkansas
There is plenty of financial aid available to college students in Arkansas.
First, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The FAFSA gives you access to all kinds of aid – federal, state and private! The money is awarded to applicants on a first come, first served basis, so be sure to apply right away. The application will be available to you on October 1st of the year before you plan to attend.
To complete the FAFSA, you will need to provide income, assets, taxes and other financial information for you and your parents (unless you’re considered “independent”). This information will be used to determine how much and what kinds of financial aid are offered to you.
The ideal type of financial aid is a grant or scholarship, which is money that does not have to be repaid. This aid is often awarded to those who demonstrate financial need or academic excellence, but may also be given out based on intended major, geographic region, specific achievements or talents, etc.
Here are some grants and scholarships available to Arkansas residents:
|Grant/Scholarship Name||Details||Grant/Scholarship amount|
|Arkansas Higher Education Opportunities Grant / GO! Grant||Based on financial need, as determined by the FAFSA||$1000 to full time students and $500 to part time students|
|State Teacher Education Program (STEP)||Yearly loan repayment to Arkansas public school educators teaching a subject or in a geographic area with a shortage of teachers||Up to $4000 per year / Up to 3 years|
|Teacher Opportunity Program (TOP)||Reimbursement opportunity for teachers and administrators opting to further their education||Covers out-of-pocket tuition and fees paid up to $3000 per year|
|Arkansas Health Education Grant||Available to students pursuing degrees in chiropractic medicine, dentistry, optometry, osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine, or veterinary medicine||In-state tuition rates at out-of-state schools|
|Nursing Loan Program||Forgivable loans for students pursuing a degree that will qualify them to become nurse educators||Up to $5000 per semester / $10,000 per academic year for full-time students|
|Arkansas Future Grant (ArFuture)||Available to students seeking certificates or Associate degrees in science, technology, engineering and/or math or regional high demand areas of study||Covers public school tuition and fees|
|Academic Challenge Scholarship||Open to residents graduating high school, already attending college, or returning to school; No academic requirements||Graduated schedule of award|
|Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship||Graduating seniors who scored 32 or better on the ACT and 1410 or better on the ACT and have at least a 3.50 GPA||Pays tuition, fees, room and board up to $10,000 per year|
ship search websites such as Fastweb.com.
You can also find financial assistance at the college(s) you’re interested in. Check with the financial aid office!
Be sure to also check out the Arkansas’s state-wide college planning tool, “Fund My Future.” This is a free resource providing scholarship searches, FAFSA assistance, financial aid checklists, scholarship application tips and so on. Many of these tools are available to the public already, but the information provided here is specific to Arkansas students and organized on one site.
List of Online Colleges in Arkansas
|Online Colleges in Arkansas||Location||Annual Tuition||Accreditation||Application Fee|
|University of Central Arkansas||Conway, Arkansas||$8,224||Regional||$25|
|University of Arkansas||Fayetteville, Arkansas||$8,820||Regional||$40|
|Arkansas State University||Jonesboro, Arkansas||$8,200||Regional||$15|
|University of Arkansas – Little Rock||Little Rock, Arkansas||$8,061||Regional||$40|
|Southern Arkansas University||Magnolia, Arkansas||$8,196||Regional||$0|
|Harding University||Searcy, Arkansas||$18,635||Regional||$50|
|John Brown University||Siloam Springs, Arkansas||$25,324||Regional||$25|
The higher education options in Arkansas are excellent, and they’re set to get even better!
The new funding restructure proves that Arkansas is committed helping college students complete their degrees and achieve success.