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Even as college tuition continues to increase, it remains a viable investment. Forbes reports that Arkansas residents with a bachelor's degree earn 71% more, on average, than residents with just a high school diploma. Furthermore, in just over two years after graduation, the average college graduate in Arkansas breaks even on the cost of their education.
The Natural State is home to several top online schools for students who want to earn trade certifications or degrees at the undergraduate or graduate levels. This guide outlines important information for students considering online colleges in Arkansas, such as job outlook and salary projections, tuition costs, and financial aid opportunities.
Job Outlook for Students With College Degrees in Arkansas
Arkansas NEXT , an organization that helps students navigate life after high school, reports that high-school graduates in Arkansas with no college education earn $21,139 per year , on average. Professionals with some college professional training earn $33,653 annually, on average. Graduates with a bachelor's degree enjoy a mean annual salary of $54,918. With graduate degrees, professionals make $103,027, on average.
A student's area of study impacts their projected income. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that many of the highest-paying jobs in Arkansas require a healthcare degree. Other high-paying jobs are in the industries of marketing, management, academia, law, and information systems. Learners who pursue related degrees can earn over $100,000 in the state.
Unemployment Rate, August 2018
Annual Mean Wage, May 2017
Search, Compare and Research Online Arkansas Colleges
Cost of Online Colleges in Arkansas
On average, learners at online community colleges in Arkansas pay $3,700 per year in tuition and fees. This price is slightly above the national average for such schools. However, in-state students at public, four-year universities pay significantly less per year in tuition than their peers across the country. While the national mean is $10,230 per year, students at Arkansas colleges pay $8,710 annually for tuition and fees.
In addition to tuition, students should budget for books and technology fees. Online learners often save on the transportation, housing, and facility costs that their on-campus peers incur. However, online students may need to pay an additional technology fee to use the school's online learning platform.
Students who want to save money on their bachelor's degree can start with associate degree at a community college and transfer the credits earned to a bachelor's degree.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2018-19
|Public Two-Year||Public Four-Year|
Source: The College Board
In-State vs. Out-of-State Tuition in Arkansas
Public colleges and universities receive state funding fueled by taxpayers, so they charge a lower rate for in-state students than out-of-state students. In-state students at public, four-year universities in Arkansas pay $8,710 per year, on average, while out-of-state students pay $21,410.
Arkansas' nonresident tuition award scholarship allows students from Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi to pay significantly less than typical out-of-state tuition rates.
Average Tuition and Fees, 2018-19
|Public Four-Year In-State||Public Four-Year Out-of-State|
Source: The College Board
Financial Aid in Arkansas
Students pursuing a degree from online colleges in Arkansas enjoy many financial aid opportunities. The first step to securing financial aid is to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) . This form asks applicants for their financial information, which the federal government uses to determine eligibility for federal aid. Some state and private scholarships use this information to determine aid eligibility as well.
Many learners qualify for federal student loans, which offer lower interest rates than private loans. Six months after graduating or dropping below half time, learners must start repaying these loans. If possible, learners should forgo loans for scholarships and grants since these awards do not need to be repaid. Degree candidates can apply for state-sponsored scholarships and grants through the Department of Higher Education. Several nonprofit organizations and companies offer scholarships as well.
Organizations may award scholarships based on merit, need, or a combination of both. State-sponsored grants often feature a need-based component. The average state grant award per year is higher for Arkansas students than the national mean, as the chart below illustrates.
State Grant Aid per Full-Time Equivalent Undergraduate Student, 2016-17
Source: The College Board
Scholarships and Grants for Arkansas College Students
Organizations offer scholarships for many types of students in Arkansas, such as degree candidates with specific majors, backgrounds, GPAs, and economic needs. Below, are 10 scholarships for college students in Arkansas.
Who Can Apply: Unmarried students with children under 18 years old may qualify for this award. Applicants must live in Arkansas, hold no previous bachelor's degrees, earn at least a 2.5 GPA, and meet income requirements.
Who Can Apply: African-American students can apply for this scholarship if they prove economic disadvantages, attend accredited schools, and are between 17-25 years old. Applicants must submit an essay about their career goals.
Who Can Apply: This award requires enrollment in an accredited graduate school and a commitment to work with children, particularly those with special needs. Only learners in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee qualify.
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be legal Arkansas residents, submit SAT or ACT scores, and demonstrate academic success through high school transcripts to qualify for this award.
Who Can Apply: Members of the Presbyterian Church in the United States can apply for this need-based award. Candidates need completion of at least one year of college, a minimum 2.5 GPA, and full-time enrollment in an accredited school.
Amount: Up to $3,000
Who Can Apply: The Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) awards this scholarship to applicants who prove Arkansas residency, work toward qualifying degrees at accredited schools, do not hold bachelor's degrees, meet financial requirements, and pass drug tests.
Amount: $2,000-$5,000 per year
Who Can Apply: This ADHE-funded grant encourages students to pursue STEM fields. Applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent from Arkansas and enrollment in an accredited Arkansas school. Applicants must submit the FAFSA to demonstrate financial need.
Amount: Equal to tuition and fees
Who Can Apply: TOP encourages working teachers in Arkansas to continue their education. Applicants must maintain their professional licenses, declare intentions to keep working as teachers in the state, and maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA.
Amount: Up to $3,000
Who Can Apply: This award helps learners pay for technical, vocational, and certification programs at online colleges in Arkansas. Applicants must prove Arkansas residency and acceptance into approved plans.
Amount: Up to $800
Who Can Apply: Dependents of a parent or spouse in law enforcement who died or became permanently disabled while in the line of duty qualify for this full-ride scholarship. Eligible law enforcement careers include law enforcement officers, game wardens, firefighters, and EMTs.
Amount: Tuition, fees, and on-campus housing for eight semesters
Best Majors for Online Students in Arkansas
Major employers in Arkansas include retail giants, several hospitals, banks, and manufacturing companies. Each of these organizations needs marketing managers and executives. Graduates with a degree in marketing enjoy many job opportunities and earn above-average salaries.
Agriculture remains a large sector of the Arkansas economy. Arkansas graduates with an agriculture degree can become agricultural managers who make more than their colleagues around the country .
Nursing has many job opportunities, and the field continues to grow in Arkansas. Nurses earn relatively high wages and enjoy many continuing education and career advancement opportunities. For example, registered nurses can earn master's degrees to become nurse practitioners or nurse anesthetists.
Marketing/AdvertisingGraduates with a degree in communications, marketing, or advertising enjoy lucrative salary potential. In Arkansas, the mean annual wage for marketing managers is $147,370 . This salary makes these professionals the 11th-highest paid in the state. Advertising managers earn $145,680 per year on average.
AgricultureFarming and livestock comprise 36% of the land in Arkansas. With such a large agricultural industry, the demand for farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers continues to rise. These professionals enjoy an average annual salary of $82,810 . Learners who pursue graduate school can become agricultural postsecondary teachers, who make $88,960 per year on average.
NursingAlthough nurses in Arkansas earn an average salary of $58,810 annually , which is less than the national mean for this occupation, this major makes this list for its versatility and growth potential. Learners can get master's degrees and become some of the highest-paid professionals in the state, including nurse anesthetists, who make $161,690 per year on average.
Resources for Online College Students in Arkansas
Arkansas Department of Higher Education : This state government resource provides college-related information for parents, students, counselors, and teachers. Prospective learners can find scholarships, learn about the FAFSA, and find a list of every college in the state.
The College & Career Planning System of Arkansas : This system allows current and prospective students to discover majors at online colleges in Arkansas and map out potential career paths for each one. Learners can also find financial aid information and take career assessments.
Arkansas State Board of Private Career Education : Students who want to earn technical and vocational certifications can find valuable information through this organization.The board provides lists of schools, transcript resources, and FAQs.
Arkansas YoUniversal : Students can use this online portal to apply for many state-sponsored scholarships at once. This system helps learners track their applications and awards, as well.
Arkansas Community Colleges : Students seeking associate degrees from community colleges in Arkansas benefit from this website. Students can learn about the many schools around the state and their initiatives.
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