The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery (ASL) announced this week it raised a record amount of money for its scholarship program in fiscal year 2023, which ended on June 30.
The lottery noted that it generated $114.77 million for its scholarship program, outpacing the previous record of $106.41 million set in 2021.
“We are in the entertainment business; however, we never lose sight of our objective of helping Arkansas students pursue a higher education,” ASL Executive Director Eric Hagler said in an ASL press release. “This mission will continue to have a long-term positive economic impact on our state.”
Arkansas Lottery draw games drove record proceeds
While FY2023 rendered the highest scholarship proceeds in the lottery’s history, it did not break the record for highest sales. That milestone belongs to FY2021, in which the lottery generated more than $631 million in sales.
So, how did the lottery reach a new all-time high for scholarship proceeds even though it fell short of its sales record? Draw games, Hagler told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Draw games have a margin of 45%, while scratchers have a margin of up to 15%, he said. So, while FY2023’s sales numbers weren’t the highest on record, the portion of those sales generated by draw games was high enough to push scholarship proceeds into new territory.
A likely contributor to a boost in draw-game revenue was the Arkansas lottery’s app overhaul earlier this year. The updates modernized the app, adding biometric login, ticket checking, and QR-code purchases.
“Our dedicated team of professionals worked diligently this year to outperform every metric from the previous fiscal year,” Hagler said. “Every division played a crucial role in our success.”
Scholarship money goes to a variety of programs
According to ASL, money raised for the scholarships goes to three different programs:
- Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship (up to $5,000 per year): For Arkansas residents who attend an approved two- or four-year institution in Arkansas. Eligible schools include the University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University, and multiple community colleges.
- Arkansas Workforce Challenge Scholarship (up to $800 per program): For students applying to certificate programs in high-demand areas of three occupations: healthcare, IT, and industry.
- Arkansas Concurrent Challenge Scholarship ($125 per course): Designed for high school students who are taking college courses along with their high school classes.
Additionally, the ASL noted that lawmakers approved a fourth program, the Arkansas Challenge Plus Scholarship, that will kick off in the fall of 2024. The scholarship will act as a supplement to the Academic Challenge Scholarship for students who have certain levels of financial need.
In total, the lottery has raised more than $1.2 billion for the state’s scholarship programs. Furthermore, the ASL has helped fund scholarships for more than 720,000 students.
The ASL has paid out more than $4.6 billion in prizes and generated more than $167 million in state and federal tax revenue.