AR lottery sales falling, high school students may be affected

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Arkansas lottery ticket sales continue to fall and college students may end up losing out because of it. Officials say that if the trend does not change, scholarship amounts may fall too.

"It's very important, I wouldn't be at school right now if I didn't have it because I would be able to afford to go," said Hannah Loomis, a sophomore at University of Arkansas Little Rock.

Many students in Arkansas depend on the thousands of dollars the Arkansas lottery gives them every year to attend a university.

"the scholarship is the majority of my financial aid," said Darrius Orr, also a sophomore at UALR.

It is a good chunk of money given to college goers. A maximum of $4,500 for four-year colleges and $2,500 for two-year colleges.

"For a number of our students in the state of Arkansas it makes the difference between whether they can afford to go to college or not," said Shane Broadway, Interim Director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

Lottery ticket sales went from 39 million dollars last September to 30 million exactly one year later.

"The gap between what we're currently paying out in scholarships and what we're taking in revenue is really something we're starting to have to watch on a monthly basis now," said Broadway.

Lottery scholarships get about 90 million dollars from the Lottery Commission but they say if they get less, next year's freshman class will see a lighter financial package come next fall.

"What it will impact more than anything is the seniors who are graduating high school this year," said Broadway.

Broadway says all that can be done is come up with ideas on how to help struggling students pay for their education.

"The citizens of Arkansas if they have an idea if they have a concern in terms of the current program that they want to share. I think it's important that they talk to the members of the general assembly because ultimately it's going to be a decision that they'll have to make," said Broadway.

Recent numbers have been better for the lottery commission. They are still holding out hope that the budget will be met by December before they have to make some difficult decisions.