Date of Graduation

8-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Political Science

Advisor

Michael Miller

Committee Member

Brinck Kerr

Second Committee Member

Todd Shields

Keywords

Financial Aid Policy, Higher Education Policy, Lottery Scholarships

Abstract

In recent years, lottery scholarship programs have become a popular policy program for states that wish to help students afford higher education without having to raise new taxes. Through a statewide lottery, profits from the program are passed onto college students in the form of merit-based scholarships. Even with strong opposition from opponents who questioned how much a lottery would benefit the entire population of the state, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery was created via voter referendum in 2008.

A key goal of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery was to increase college participation, especially among underrepresented students. The study therefore sought to examine whether or not there has been a significant increase in college participation since the implementation of the program, both statewide and among a sample of high poverty counties. At the same time, human and social capital variables were examined through weighted least squares regression to see which community variables, if any, helped explain the rate at which high school graduates from an Arkansas county earn lottery scholarships.

The results of the study indicated that although there has been a significant increase in college participation across the state, the sample of high poverty counties did not witness a significant increase. The study also found certain human and social capital variables help to explain variation in lottery scholarship success across Arkansas counties, including education attainment, median income, population migration, and number of school activities offered. Although a clear model for predicting lottery scholarship success was not reached, recommendations were made to help the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery address some of its issues, namely the effect it has on college participation rate in high poverty counties.

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