LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas students can now apply for scholarships under a newly created program aimed at increasing degree and certificate attainment in high-demand fields at community and technical colleges and encouraging the graduates to work in Arkansas.


Prospective college students can apply for the ArFuture Grant online through July 1 at www.ark.org/adhe_financialaid/login.aspx.


The program was created under Act 316 of 2017 and was part of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s agenda for this year’s legislative session. Rep. Jana Della Rogers, R-Rogers, carried the legislation.


“I am pleased that the ArFuture grant application process is now officially open,” Hutchinson said in a statement Tuesday. “Through the ArFuture Grant, we are ensuring that all Arkansans have access to affordable higher education. This will increase our degree and certificate attainment rates by removing the financial hurdles that keep many from enrolling. Increasing access to education and creating a more skilled workforce is the best way to strengthen economic development and increase opportunities for all Arkansans.”


Under the program, a student can apply to receive up to two years of tuition and fees at a state community or technical college. The student must enroll in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics field or another high-demand field, such as computer science or welding.


A grant recipient will be required to participate in a mentor program and a community service program. After graduation, the recipient must work full-time in Arkansas for a minimum of three years.


If a student does not complete his or her commitment, the grant will convert to a loan that must be repaid to the state.


No new revenue is being dedicated to the program. To offset its estimated $8 million annual cost, the Workforce Improvement Grant, or WIG, and Higher Education Opportunities Grant, or Go!, programs have been abolished.