Faced with increased costs for undergraduate scholarships and expanded Medicaid coverage, the Arkansas General Assembly has approved appropriations that will significantly reduce funding for financial aid programs, including dental education. In fact, the number of funded student positions for Arkansans applying for dental school will be reduced from 32 per year to only 14. Students who are already in dental school are not affected by the cuts.
ASDA had distributed a letter encouraging the leadership to reinstate full funding for dental education (Letter reARHEG dental funding), but in the end the funding fell victim to a lack of available revenues, the additional Medicaid costs and a depleted fund balance that has shored up financial aid obligations for several years.
ASDA is obviously concerned about the workforce impact that will result from this unfortunate situation, and will continue to work with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the legislature to identify funds that could be used to assist new students.