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Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship | GS

High School

 Important Note: The following information is intended as a general overview of the program for those applying, or who are considering applying, for the scholarship and is not intended to be a comprehensive compilation of program requirements. For complete information, please refer to the program’s rules and regulations.

The Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship is the most academically rigorous scholarship program offered for those graduating high school seniors scoring either a minimum composite or superscore of 32 on the ACT or 1410 on the SAT and a 3.50 unweighted, cumulative high school grade point average. Those named National Merit Finalists or National Achievement Scholars may qualify without meeting the GPA requirement but must still meet the ACT/SAT requirement. FAFSA is required. The scholarship pays tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board up to $10,000 per year.

 GDS Information Sheet  GS Information Sheet

 Scholarship Deadline to Apply

Annual Deadline
March 1


At least a composite or superscore of 32 on the ACT (1410 SAT) and a 3.5 GPA to apply. FAFSA is required.

 Award Amount

Up to $10,000 per academic year for 4 years

 Who May Apply:

High school seniors who possess a 32 ACT composite or superscore or 1410 on the SAT while maintaining a 3.5 unweighted, cumulative GPA or the standing of National Merit and National Achievement Finalist.

Note: Non-U.S. Citizens with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or have a parent who has an EAD may apply for the Governor’s Scholars Program (FAFSA will not be required for these students).  Please contact our office at 501-371-1064 if this is your situation.

 Detailed Description

Basic Eligibility Criteria

An applicant must:

  • Be a bona fide resident of Arkansas
  • Be a United States citizen or a permanent resident alien
  • Be a graduating high school senior
  • Have a composite score or superscore of 32 on the ACT OR a combined math and critical reasoning score of 1410 on a single SAT; AND
  • Have a 3.5 academic grade point average OR selection as a National Achievement Finalist or National Merit Finalist
  • Complete the FAFSA
  • Begin attendance in at least 15 credit hours each semester at college/university (only 12 credit hours is required your first semester) 

Continuing Eligibility Criteria

  • Student must maintain a minimum 3.25 cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale at the end of each academic year
  • Student must complete 27 semester credit hours during the first academic year and 30 semester credit hours per year thereafter.

Award Amounts

  • The Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship will pay up to $10,000 per year for tuition, mandatory fees, room and board. Students are eligible to accept both the Academic Challenge and the Governor’s Distinguished Scholars.  If a student receives both, the award amounts are listed below for each year they are receiving the scholarships.  
    • Student receiving both Governor's Distinguished and Academic Challenge per Academic Year at a 4-Year institution:


     Academic ChallengeGovernor's Distinguished
    Year 1$1,000$9,000
    Year 2$4,000$6,000
    Year 3$4,000$6,000
    Year 4$5,000$5,000


      • Student receiving both Governor's Distinguished and Academic Challenge per Academic Year at a 2-Year institution until they transfer to a 4-Year institution:


       Academic ChallengeGovernor's Distinguished
      Year 1$1,000$9,000
      Year 2$3,000$7,000
      5th Semester$1,000$3,500

     Other Information

    Graduate School Criteria

    Those that graduate from undergrad early have the option to use the remaining semesters for graduate school. There are a few rules that come with this option, listed below:

    • Students who graduate early from undergrad have the option to use one or both remaining semester(s) from their Senior year of funding for graduate school. (Max 2 semesters)
    • The Graduate school must be based in Arkansas, or an eligible Out-of-State School and Program
    • Student must be accepted and start the graduate program the semester immediately following their undergraduate graduation (summer semesters not included).
    • Students must submit their Graduate School Form and attach their graduate acceptance letter, linked below.
    • If a student has an extenuating circumstance or your graduate program doesn’t start immediately following your graduation, they can have their scholarship held up to a year by submitting a hold through their SAMS account.
    • Students must complete 30 hours with a 3.25+ GPA the academic year prior to beginning their graduate program in a Fall semester or 15 hours with a 3.25+ GPA if your graduate program begins in a Spring semester following graduating in a Fall semester in the middle of an academic year.

    The scholarship amount for graduate school is based on the hours enrolled in. Seniors receive $5,000 a semester, if enrolled in 9 or more hours. Below is a chart of the proration.

    • Enrolled in 3-5 hours= 50%
    • Enrolled in 6-8 hours= 75%
    • Enrolled in 9+ hours=100%

    To request your remaining semesters be used for graduate school, please submit your Graduate Acceptance Letter using the link below. 

    Graduate School Form

     Rules and Regulations  APPLY NOW

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