Benjamin Lever Tuition Fellowship

The Benjamin Franklin Lever Tuition Fellowship is designed to increase diversity within graduate degree programs by providing financial assistance to graduate students from underrepresented groups. For more information, please contact the Office of Graduate Fellowships at 479-575-4327 or


  • A limited number of fellowships are available each year.
  • The Lever fellowship pays for full graduate tuition of degree-related course work for the duration of the degree program. A maximum of 6 thesis hours or 18 dissertation hours may be paid by this fellowship.
  • This fellowship is not available to otherwise qualified graduate students who receive tuition payment from another source, such as a graduate assistant position or other tuition award.

Terms & Conditions

  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens, be admitted to the University of Arkansas Graduate School without condition, and be regularly admitted to a graduate degree program by the time the fellowship starts.
  • The Lever fellowship is awarded based on the graduate degree program of the student. Graduation from that degree program, changing degree programs or leaving the university will cause the graduate fellowship to be terminated. Students enrolled in degree programs offered through the Global Campus are ineligible for the fellowship.
  • Lever fellows must maintain full-time enrollment for each semester the graduate fellowship is to be applied towards tuition payment. Full-time enrollment for graduate students is 9 hours/semester (fall and spring). Enrollment during the summer semester is optional, but if the graduate student does enroll, 6 hours is considered full-time.
    • Exceptions to the full-time enrollment requirement may be granted if:
      • The graduate program is structured with a specific number of required hours each semester, which may be less than full-time;
      • There are not enough degree-related classes offered in a given semester to allow for full-time enrollment; or
      • The student is at the end of the degree program and needs less than full-time enrollment to complete the degree requirements.
      • Other exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Payment is for approved degree-related course work.  Miscellaneous fees and insurance premiums are the responsibility of the student.
  • Fellows must maintain good academic standing throughout the graduate degree program and make satisfactory progress towards graduate degree completion.
  • Lever fellows must notify the Office of Graduate Fellowships, Enrollment, and Graduation Services at the beginning of the semester once enrollment is complete so the graduate fellowship can be applied towards the tuition charges.
  • Lever fellows must notify the Office of Graduate Fellowships, Enrollment, and Graduation Services if receiving a tuition award from another source.

Application and Deadlines

Qualified students may apply for this fellowship at any point during their graduate studies. Applications must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Fellowships and Student Support, GEAR 213 or by:

June 15: funding for the fall semester

November 15: funding for the spring semester*

March 15: funding for the summer semester*

*Most fellowships are awarded beginning the fall semester of the academic year. If funding is available, applications will be considered for the spring and summer semesters.

A complete application packet will include:

  1. A completed Benjamin Franklin Lever Tuition Fellowship Nomination/Application Form.
  2. A one-page statement of purpose, discussing your goals for your graduate studies and how the Lever fellowship will help you achieve those goals.
  3. Applicants must have submitted all transcripts to Graduate Admissions. Standardized test scores are not required for Lever fellowship consideration, but may be required for admission into the graduate degree program.

Applications are reviewed by the fellowship committee after the application deadline. All applicants will be notified of the award decision by email, usually within 2-3 weeks after the deadline.

The Benjamin Franklin Lever Tuition Fellowship, is named in honor of the first African American to receive a graduate degree from the University. Lever, a native of Pine Bluff, received a bachelor’s degree from the Tuskegee Institute in 1938. He entered graduate school at the University of Arkansas in 1950 and obtained a Master of Science degree in Agronomy in 1951. In 1955, Mr. Lever obtained a Master of Education degree in Educational Administration and, in 1964, he received a Diploma of Advanced Studies from the University. Mr. Lever served on the staff and faculty at Arkansas A.M. & N. (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), was principal at several Arkansas public schools, and was a dean at Shorter College. He died in 1980.