Arkadelphia News

Q&A on The Arkadelphia Promise scholarship

After posting a story recently about the freshman to sophomore retention rates of the Arkadelphia High School graduates of 2021, we had some questions about the Arkadelphia Promise and how it helps local students. We sat down for a Q&A with Arkadelphia Promise Director Jason Jones for a conversation. We thought this would be a great reminder for those with school-age children and informative for those who have heard of the Arkadelphia Promise but aren’t sure how it helps our APSD students.

How does the Arkadelphia Promise pay for all these scholarships?

Jason Jones

Jones: Great question. For those that may be new to Arkadelphia, we are so blessed to have two great, local organizations that wanted to give back to the community by investing in our local high school graduates. Southern Bancorp and the Ross Foundation made long term commitments to fund the Arkadelphia Promise. The idea came to fruition a year or two after the El Dorado (AR) Promise began. I think we announced last week that we are currently investing about $500,000 each year on our Arkadelphia High School graduates.

How does a student qualify for a scholarship from the Arkadelphia Promise?

Jones: First, students must make a 19 on the ACT test. This will also qualify them for the Arkansas Challenge Scholarship. Second, students must be enrolled in Arkadelphia High School the first day of ninth grade through graduation. This qualifies them for as much as 65% of the maximum scholarship. In addition, for every year a student is enrolled before ninth grade, the amount of the scholarship is more.

This graph shows the percentage of the scholarship, based on years enrolled in APSD.

What is the maximum scholarship?

Jones: It’s $15,000, over four years, for those who qualify. The scholarship amounts can also vary based on the results of a student’s FAFSA results. Some of our students qualify for large Pell grants and those students will receive Arkadelphia Promise scholarships, but the amount will be reduced to the amount to pay for tuition and fees at their college or university.

Does the Arkadelphia Promise pay for room and board?

Jones: We don’t assist with room and board but other scholarships that our students are awarded can go toward room and board. We don’t reduce the Arkadelphia Promise if a student receives a merit-based scholarship. This includes band, choir, athletic or academic scholarships. This often puts the student in a position where they owe very little money to attend college.

The Arkansas Challenge is often mentioned when we hear about the Arkadelphia Promise. Can you explain why?

Jones: The easiest way to explain the relationship is that a student needs to meet the same requirements to qualify for both scholarships. It makes it easier for everyone to understand that if you qualify for one, you qualify for both scholarships. Then we can show them the financial benefits of receiving both scholarships. The money really adds up and reduces the amount of money needed to make a college degree possible.

This graph shows the scholarship amounts for the Arkansas Challenge (Lottery) Scholarship and the Arkadelphia Promise.

How do students apply for the Arkadelphia Promise?

Jones: Students go to and print off the application, fill it out and turn it in to me. It’s a simple application. Once the student enrolls in a college in the fall, I take a look at their bill and figure the amount of their scholarship and then we send a check to the college.

Does the Arkadelphia Promise pay for community college or technical schools?

Jones: It does. If an AHS graduate wants to be an electrician or go to cosmetology school, we can help pay for it. Putting it simply, if a student is pursuing a certificate or a degree, we can probably help them. We have done this from the very beginning of the Arkadelphia Promise. We have former students working now as welders, diesel mechanics and cutting hair! Southern Bancorp and the Ross Foundation gave us the resources to help students make a living and achieve their goals.

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