Arkansas Economic Development Commission

Gov. Hutchinson Introduces New ArFuture Grant – Gives Arkansans Access to Affordable Higher Education

August 8, 2017

AEDC Gov. Asa Hutchinson announces ArFuture Grants ProgramGovernor Asa Hutchinson recently announced the creation of the “Arkansas Future Grant” (ArFuture) for traditional, home school and non-traditional students in Arkansas. This state-funded grant would be available on a first come, first serve basis and provide two years of tuition and fees at an Arkansas community or technical college to any student who enrolls in a high-demand field of study, such as computer science or welding. 

ArFuture grants will not require new general revenues. The price tag will be covered by repurposing $8.2 million in general revenue funds from the state’s WIG and GO! grants. (The GO! grant program currently has a 77% non-completion rate.) In addition, key reforms will be implemented to address important factors such as student accountability.  

For example, under the ArFuture grant, all recipients are required to meet monthly with a program mentor. This measure will increase the likelihood of student success. Additionally, upon graduation, the student must work full-time in Arkansas for a minimum of three years. If a student does not complete his or her commitment, the grant will be converted to a loan for repayment to the State of Arkansas.

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement: 
"Through the new ArFuture Grant, we are ensuring that all Arkansans have access to affordable higher education. This plan will not only increase access to post-secondary education by removing the financial hurdles that keep many from enrolling, but it will also incentivize our students to better themselves by providing an opportunity to climb the economic ladder, while serving their communities.”

“ArFuture will send a clear message to prospective employers that the state is committed to building the 21st century workforce that will attract industry and allow the Arkansas economy to thrive.”

ArFuture Grant Information
To be eligible for the ArFuture Grant, students must be a high school graduate with established residency, including those students that were home schooled or received their GED. This does not include high school students that are taking concurrent credit courses. Prospective students must also apply for a Federal Pell Grant. There is no grade-point average prerequisite to receive the grant. Recipients of the grant may enroll as full-time or part-time students at any in-state community college. They must also complete 8 hours of community service per semester. The ArFuture grant is stackable with the Arkansas Lottery and other state scholarships.

2017 Education Initiatives                           
Governor Hutchinson’s ArFuture grant program was a component of his comprehensive education plan for the 2017 Legislative Session, which focuses on meeting the needs of Arkansas’s rapidly changing workforce by making post-secondary education more affordable, accessible, and attainable. Other components of the Governor’s education initiatives are as follows:

Higher Education Productivity Funding Formula
The Higher Education Productivity Funding Model places the priority on accountability, student success and program completion as opposed to the previous formula, which placed priority on student enrollment. Additionally, the Governor demonstrated his support for the new funding method last October by announcing an additional $10 million increase to higher education funding on the condition of the reform’s passage. 

Additional $3 million in Pre-K funding
Governor Hutchinson committed an additional $3 million a year to improve the quality of pre-kindergarten programs in the Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) program. The Governor also recommended new grant programs to improve and reward teacher quality and encourage and enhance innovation. 

Currently, Arkansas ranks 12th nationally in the percent of 4 year-olds enrolled in state-funded Pre-K, 3rd in the percent of 3 year-olds enrolled in state-funded Pre-K, and 22nd in the amount of per pupil funding. Additionally, Arkansas’ Pre-K program meets 9 out of the 10 benchmarks measuring Quality by the National Institute for Early Education Research (National Institute for Early Education Research).

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