ARKANSAS REPUBLICANS plan to spend more than $1 billion over the next three years to help kids from the impoverished state of Arkansas find scholarships to attend college and the workforce.
Key figures: Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has committed $1.1 billion to scholarships and other aid to help low-income students pay for college.
The governor is the second highest-paid public official in the country, making $100,000 more than his US Senate counterpart and earning an average annual salary of $130,000.
Hutchinson has also pledged $1bn to help lower-income Arkansans in the workforce, which is estimated to have a significant impact on the state’s economic recovery.
The new state budget includes a $50,000 boost for the Arkansas State University Scholarship Program, which helps lower- and middle-income kids get in-state tuition, study abroad and other support.
Other funds will also be used to help students pay back their student loans, which average $28,000 for students with a bachelor’s degree.
The state’s highest-earning student, a recent University of Arkansas graduate, will receive an additional $50 per year, while the state will spend $100 per student to help the state pay for its $2.5bn budget.
‘Our children deserve to be able to go to college’The state will also spend $500m over the coming five years to support a $2bn scholarship fund for students at state universities.
Arkansans can apply to get an Arkansas scholarship to attend a public university and earn up to $25,000 in scholarships per year.
Income guidelinesArkansas has one of the highest income inequality levels in the US, according to a study by the Brookings Institution.
The average state student is expected to earn between $2800 and $32,000 per year in Arkansas, which has the fourth highest poverty rate in the nation.
Students who qualify for the scholarship will receive tuition waivers of up to 70 per cent and be able pay for the full cost of attendance, which can include books and fees.
“Our children should not be left behind,” Hutchinson said in a statement on Monday.
According to a 2013 report by the University of Texas, only one in 10 low- and moderate-income families in the state were receiving aid for tuition.
A state study released earlier this year found that Arkansas students living in poverty are more likely to receive government aid than the average US student, with over half receiving government support.