Financial Aid and Student Loans in Arkansas

Finding adequate funding for your college adventure is one of the many steps in the college application process. It can be daunting and frustrating, particularly when all of the information is scattered around a variety of websites and require several applications to process.

The State of Arkansas offers access to many student loan programs, but it can be hard to find it all, which is why we’ve put together this list. We aim to help you find as much information about scholarships, grants, and student loan financing in Arkansas in one centralized place, making it easier for you to explore your options. With an average cost of attendance of $26,579, 53% of Arkansas students graduate with student loan debt.

Unfortunately, the State of Arkansas doesn’t make it easy to do this sort of search on your own, as many of the government pages dealing with student loan information have broken links, and website maintenance isn’t what you expect of a state information site. As part of our state by state guide, here is a centralized collection of scholarships, grants, and student loans in Arkansas.

What Scholarship Programs Does Arkansas Have?

The state of Arkansas offers several scholarship programs with varying amounts and requirements. 

Hempstead County Single Parent Scholarship

 This scholarship awards between $375 to $750 per semester to single-parent residents of Hempstead County. The award amount depends on the applicant’s enrollment status and their application for a Federal Pell Grant through FAFSA. Its purpose is to augment the income for single parents with at least one dependent under the age of 18.

Students can reapply for the scholarship for up to three years as long as they remain eligible, but the award isn’t automatically renewable. 

Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship

The Arkansas Challenge Scholarship is available to any Arkansas resident graduating from high school with a GPA of 2.5 or higher and who has earned at least 12 college credits at a GPA of 2.5 or higher. To date, awards for the scholarship — paid partially by the Arkansas state lottery — total 965 Million among 542,307 distributed scholarships.

Students need to be a resident of Arkansas for at least 12 months, have a minimum ACT score of 19, and enroll for a minimum of 30 credit hours per year. The scholarship distributes $1,000 for the first year, $4,000 for junior and sophomore year, and $5,000 for the final senior year, provided the applicant continues to excel and meet the criteria.

Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship

One of the most significant scholarships offered by Arkansas in terms of both total award and number of recipients is the Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship. With this scholarship, Arkansas awards up to 300 scholars up to $10,000 annually, which is renewable for up to three years. Applicants must maintain a minimum 3.25 grade point average from their institution and carry 27 credit hours for the first year with 30 credit hours for each year after.

Ted & Clara Gentry Memorial Scholarship

 The estate of Ted “Doc” Gentry established this scholarship in 1984 to help provide quality education to the children of public and private utility employees. Ted Gentry owned an Arkansas based water distribution and waste management company. It awards scholarships of $2000 to qualified applicants. Both students and parents must fill out application information and send it in by the deadline to qualify.

The scholarship awards six students annually. 

What Grant Programs Does Arkansas Have?

Another excellent method for funding your education is a grant, and Arkansas offers several quality grant programs for eligible students. Grants, like scholarships, provide students with money that usually doesn’t require any repayment, so they’re a great option to help alleviate post-graduate debt.

In this section, we’ll cover several of the most prominent grants available in Arkansas, detailing a little of their history, as well as eligibility requirements. You can find more information about academic grants provided by Arkansas at its state website.

Arkansas Future Grant (ArFuture)

 The Arkansas Futures Grant is one of the newer grant programs offered. The ArFuture grant, established in 2017, provides funds based on the amount received by scholarships and Federal Student loans and is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants must have been a resident of Arkansas for at least three years before graduating, filled out a FAFSA application for federal student aid, and graduated from an Arkansas high school or equivalent.

This grant is specifically oriented towards students intending to study Science, Technology, Mathematics, or Engineering, and is distributed directly to the school.

The Arkansas Higher Education Opportunities Grant (Go! Grant)

 The Go! Grant provides low-income students with additional funding for higher education based on need, as reported on the FAFSA application. Eligible students must be a resident of Arkansas for at least 12 months, a US Citizen or permanent resident, enrolled at an approved school, on the path of a Bachelors’s degree in their chosen field, and certified to be drug-free.

Recipients need to maintain a 2.0 average and demonstrate continued need throughout their academic careers. The grant awards a total of $4,000 lifetime or a maximum of $1,000 per academic year distributed over both semesters. Application deadlines are June 1 for a full year or November 1 for a single spring semester.

Arkansas Health Education Grant

The Arkansas Health Education Grant allows a qualified applicant to receive a specific amount from attending approved programs in out-of-state schools. But, the grant applies only to particular areas of study related to medical specialties that are underserved in Arkansas and underrepresented in local institutions.

The Arkansas Health Education Grant works through several different governing boards to coordinate with approved institutions, where it arranges for a particular monetary grant as well as in-state tuition costs. Applicants should submit their FAFSA data as early as possible to become eligible and be part of the approved profession tracks.

State Teacher Education Program (Step)

 While this isn’t a typical grant program that directly pays students for attending college, it does afford qualified recipients a convenient way for paying back their college tuition by giving them up to $3,000 towards college loan relief. Applicants must be willing to teach in underserved areas throughout the state or be trained to teach specific courses. Minority teachers can earn an additional $1,000 per year.

Applicants must have outstanding student loans, a valid state teaching license, graduated from a teaching education program after 2004, and be an Arkansas resident. The applicant must also be a US citizen or permanent resident. 

What Student Loan Programs Does Arkansas Have?

 Arkansas has no specific, state-funded student loan programs for prospective students. But, college-bound learners can still take advantage of federal student loans through FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid.) 

Federal student loans

Prospective Arkansas students can receive federal financial aid assistance by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid(FAFSA). 

Private co-signed student loans

There are many private student loan opportunities for those who need additional assistance on top of federal student loans. Many banks, credit unions, and dedicated lending companies offer private student loans, but almost all require a co-signer.

No co-signer student loans in Arkansas

Funding U began because we identified thousands of students who were unable to qualify for a private student loan because they didn’t have an eligible co-signer. While we’re no longer the only provider of such loans, we offer no co-signer student loans to career-focused students currently enrolled full time in college. The requirements for receiving a loan are dependent upon the GPA of the student and the graduation rate of the institution they attend. To learn more about our no co-signer student loans click here.

What Schools Does Funding U Lend To In Arkansas?

 Generally speaking, Funding U’s no co-signer loans are offered to students at eligible four-year, non-profit, undergraduate degree-granting universities (which means we do not lend to for-profit schools, 2-year schools, graduate schools, or trade schools). Our eligibility requirements are based off of models that aim to predict how likely a student is to graduate, and because of that we have minimum GPA requirements that students must meet and minimum 6-year graduation rates that schools must reach in order to be eligible. To find out more about how we determine our eligibility, click here.

Below is a table listing all of the schools in Arkansas that Funding U is currently lending to, with additional details on which grades we are currently lending to, based on the school’s 6 year graduation rate.

School NameFreshman
6 yr
Grad Rate
Arkansas State University-Main CampusNoNoNoNo4873
Arkansas Tech UniversityNoNoNoNo4172
Central Baptist CollegeNoNoNoNo3464
Crowley's Ridge CollegeNoNoNoNo4468
Ecclesia CollegeNoNoNoNo2047
Harding UniversityNoNoYesYes6783
Henderson State UniversityNoNoNoNo3565
Hendrix CollegeNoYesYesYes7183
John Brown UniversityNoNoYesYes6682
Lyon CollegeNoNoNoNo4962
Ouachita Baptist UniversityNoNoYesYes6479
Philander Smith CollegeNoNoNoNo4158
Southern Arkansas University Main CampusNoNoNoNo4166
University of ArkansasNoNoYesYes6682
University of Arkansas at Little RockNoNoNoNo3969
University of Arkansas at Pine BluffNoNoNoNo2971
University of Arkansas-Fort SmithNoNoNoNo3267
University of Central ArkansasNoNoNoNo4172
University of the OzarksNoNoYesYes5060
Williams Baptist CollegeNoNoNoNo3870
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