Funding out-of-state tuition for medical specialties

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Arkansas has a shortage of vets, dentists and optometrists and no schools in the state teach any of those vocations.

Instead, the state has started offering students the chance to go to a southern school with taxpayer money funding the difference between out-of-state and in-state tuition.

The program is new but is already running into funding problems. At this point, the state can only afford to cover those already in the program working towards their degree - not any who will start this fall.

The state hopes to help those new students by taking money from they "rainy day fund."

According to Shane Broadway, interim director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, "To have all of these schools would be an immense expense so having the contact that we have to be able to pay the out-of-state tuition for Arkansas students to go right now is a good deal for the student and for the taxpayer."

Friday, July 19, a proposal to take the money out of the "rainy day fund" goes before legislative committee. The General Assembly will have to determine if the first year students can be funded beyond this school year in the 2014 fiscal session.