LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The state's top higher education official says nearly half of the students who applied for Arkansas Lottery college scholarships for the upcoming year will get them.

Higher Education Director Jim Purcell said Wednesday that, out of 54,533 applicants, 25,445 Arkansas Academic Challenge scholarships were awarded.

"All the students that got a scholarship have been notified as of (Tuesday)," Purcell said, "some of them late in the evening. I think we finished up around 11:30."

He said that applicants who did not receive a notification either did not qualify or will be put on a waiting list.

The scholarships are funded in part with the proceeds from a state-operated lottery that began selling tickets last year after voters approved the program in the 2008 election. Officials said that, last year, before the lottery began, only 8,282 Academic Challenge scholarships were awarded, less than a third of this year's total.