BENTONVILLE (KFSM) -- Governor Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a new program that will help students who enter into high demand careers, providing up to two years of paid tuition and fees for students enrolled in a community or technical college in Arkansas.
"It's called a last dollar scholarship, which basically says after all your aid is awarded, whether that's pell [grants] or whether that's scholarships, if there's anything left over and you are wanting to major in degree programs within STEM, that's science, technology, engineering and math or a high demand job, there's an opportunity to receive addition funding to pay for your school," Ricky Tompkins, Northwest Arkansas Community College vice president for learning said.
The cost of tuition is an aspect of further education that hinders many students.
"The biggest hurdle that many of our students have are financial because life happens," Tompkins said. "Whether that is a student directly out of high school at eighteen or someone unemployed or just looking for a career change."
For international business student, Mohamad Abutaleb, he depends on assistance to pay for the classes he takes at NWACC.
"Financial aid, pell grant, and I have a go grant and I used to have the Arkansas Challenge Scholarship," Abutaleb said.
Abutaleb said this new program will help students all over the state, even those who never planned on attending college.
"It will increase the enrollment at any colleges," Abutaleb said. 'It will make the new generation and even the old generation more educated about anything, any field they want."
Educators alongside lawmakers, hoping this new program will keep more students in the Natural State.
"I think this is a great opportunity for Arkansas to be on the front line when it comes to building that productive workforce in Arkansas," Tompkins said. "It's going to stay here."
The grant includes reforms that make sure students receiving the grant are accountable. Those students will have to participate in a mentor program and community service program. Upon graduation, the student will also have to have a full-time job in the state for a minimum of three years. Those who do not meet the requirements will have to pay the grant back as a loan.
The new program goes into effect immediately.