LITTLE ROCK (AP) — An Arkansas lottery commissioner says some lottery scholarship money could be used "to buy a cheeseburger at Sonic," so he wants to restrict how the extra money can be spent.
Commissioner John Campbell III of Hot Springs said he’s worried about a policy under which state colleges return excess scholarship money to the student.
Campbell told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that lottery-financed scholarships should only cover tuition, fees and books.
"I just don’t think John Q. Public understands what is happening with the dollars," he said.
But students who receive only the lottery scholarship won’t have much, if any, left after paying such bills, state education officials said. And students who receive scholarships in addition to the lottery scholarships are restricted by state law to a total only up to their schools’ estimated cost of "attending," which includes food and personal expenses, they said.
"Once tuition, fees, dorm rent and meal plans are subtracted from their scholarship, students can receive a check which can be applied for other living expenses and school supplies," said Jim Purcell, director of the state Department of Higher Education.
Each institution develops a cost-of-attendance figure for each of their student types under guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education, Purcell said.
For example, the cost of attendance for a student under age 24 dependent on parents is $13,595 at Pulaski Technical College in Little Rock. The cost for a similar student living on campus at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville is $19,498, said Tara Smith, financial-aid coordinator for the department.
The lottery-financed scholarships are $5,000 for qualifying students at the state’s four-year colleges and $2,500 for qualifying students at the two-year colleges.
Campbell was appointed to the commission in May by Arkansas Senate President Pro Tem Bob Johnson to fill out the term of Ray Thornton, who resigned.