The state’s higher education chief said that a new initiative aims to bring older students back to college, while at the same time new data could help lawmakers shape future funding for lottery scholarships.
Appearing on Talk Business, Arkansas Department of Higher Education Interim Director Shane Broadway said that the “Come Back 2 Go Forward” program aims to encourage “non-traditional students” – those who didn’t go to college straight out of high school — to return to get degrees.
According to U.S. Census data, in Arkansas among those ages 18-34 nearly half have some college credit, but no degree.
Broadway says that target group could help push Arkansas to double its college graduation rates by 2025, a goal outlined by Gov. Mike Beebe.
“A lot has changed because of technology. There are a lot more opportunities for non-traditional students to take advantage of with many of the institutions in Arkansas, public and private, being able to take a course online,” Broadway said.
According to research, a college graduate may earn more than one million dollars more over their working career than those with only a high school diploma.
Broadway also addressed the rising costs of two-year and four-year colleges in Arkansas. He said that with the emphasis in recent years to satisfy K-12 funding due to the Lake View court case, Arkansas lawmakers have not steered as much to higher education despite growing enrollments.
June 30th marked the end of fiscal year for the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship program. Broadway said between now and January, data from lottery scholarships will be dissected to allow state lawmakers to shape future policy for the college-bound money.
“They’ll be able to see if any trends have developed in terms of what students are likely to keep their scholarships, what students are likely to lose their scholarship, and see if there’s anything in terms of the requirements for scholarships that may need to be adjusted,” Broadway said.
You can see his full interview in the video below.