Arkansas lacks a veterinary college, and until recently, this hasn’t been a problem. Students pursuing veterinary degrees could obtain financial support through the state’s Health Education Grants program, which provides funding to offset the cost of out-of-state tuition.
In the past, these grants allowed 12 veterinary students per year to pursue their doctorate degree at one of four universities at in-state costs. However, a shortfall in the program’s funding may cause some students’ grants to expire prematurely. As a result, Arkansas veterinary students would be responsible for paying the entirety of out-of-state tuition for their four-year degrees.
Governor Mike Beebe has appealed to the Arkansas Legislature to reassign $1.1 million of state funding into keeping the program alive. This move would guarantee one year of funding for this fall’s 12 grant recipients.
While this emergency fund may provide a short-term answer, a long-term answer is more difficult to find.
The University of Arkansas lacks the funding to start a veterinary school despite the state’s status as a top poultry producer. Only one-third of students who leave Arkansas to receive a veterinary degree return to practice.
The Health Education Grants program incentivizes students to practice in Arkansas, where veterinarians are lacking in rural areas, making it a top priority to keep the program alive. Governor Beebe plans to pressure the state legislature to continue funding the program.