Arkansas Approves Free Tuition Program
Earlier this month, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law that provides up to two years of tuition and fees at a publicly funded Arkansas community and technical colleges to students who enroll in STEM or other high-demand fields of study, such as nursing.
The Arkansas Future Grant (ArFuture) does not require additional new state funding and will operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. It replaces the state’s Workforce Improvement Grant (WIG) and the Higher Education Opportunities Grant.
“The ArFuture Grant is changing the culture of post-secondary education in Arkansas by increasing accessibility and removing the financial hurdles that can keep students from taking the next step in their education,” Hutchinson said. “ArFuture makes higher education more affordable and attainable for Arkansas students at no additional cost to taxpayers.”
To ensure the success of the ArFuture program, students will be required to participate in a mentor program and a community service program. No minimum high school GPA is required. Students who graduate under the program also will be required to work full-time in Arkansas for three years.
If a student does not work in the state after graduation, the grants the student received will be converted to a loan.
“This bill will help us meet the needs of our state’s rapidly growing workforce, while also indicating to employers that Arkansas is committed to fostering an environment that supports economic growth and creates high-quality jobs,” Hutchinson said.
A poll released in January by the Campaign for Free College Tuition found that almost 73 percent of American voters support state-sponsored, free college tuition. San Francisco, Rhode Island and New York announced free-tuition plans this year. San Jose also announced a free tuition plan this month.