Statistics indicate that the median income for young adults with a college degree is 50% higher than those with a high school diploma. But continuing education is about much more than earning a living. It enriches our culture, creates more understanding, and adds to our quality of life.

That is why we want to remind everyone of an approaching deadline for a scholarship designed to help Arkansans offset the costs of higher education. The deadline to apply for the Arkansas Academic Challenge is June 1.

Funded in large part by the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery, the Academic Challenge Scholarship is available to students regardless of their academic status, whether just graduating from high school, currently enrolled in college, enrolling in college for the first time, or re-enrolling after a period of time out of college.

Students graduating from high school must have successfully completed the Smart Core curriculum established by the Arkansas Department of Education and either achieved at least a 2.5 grade point average or scored at least a 19 on the ACT.

The 89th General Assembly set the amounts of the scholarship for $2,000 for incoming freshman attending a 4 year university. The scholarship increases by a $1,000 every year after.

Students attending a 2 year college are eligible for a $2,000 per year scholarship.

This General Assembly also recognized the need for scholarships for those who have been out of school for some time. We increased funding from $12 million to $16 million for non-traditional students.

Students graduating from high school this year and current or prospective students who have not applied for the scholarship before, should fill out the YOUniversal Scholarship Application by June 1 and provide any supporting materials, such as transcripts, ACT score and FAFSA form, also by June 1. The deadlines apply to both the fall and spring semesters.

Anyone who received the Academic Challenge Scholarship during the 2013-2014 academic year will not have to reapply.

The Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) also offers a free smart phone application, Youniversal, that students can use to apply or to check their award status.

To fill out the form, you can visit the ADHE website, at