According to the latest census data, Arkansas is home to just over 3 million people. The average personal income in the state is $46,500 — about $18,000 below the national average. Approximately 16.3% of the population — 489,000 people — lives in poverty.
This isn’t too surprising, considering the average Arkansas resident owes about $37,000 in consumer debt, $5,327 of which is credit card debt. Unfortunately, the high debt load combined with the high poverty rate does indicate that many Arkansans are struggling to make ends meet.
The good news is that you have options if you’re living in Arkansas and need debt relief or other financial help.
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Arkansas debt statistics
Here are the most recent debt and credit statistics in Arkansas:
- Average household debt: $37,000
- Average student loan debt: $33,333
- Average credit score: 694
- Median mortgage payment: $1,071
- Bankruptcies: 10,469 (2019)
- Personal income: $46,500 (annual mean wage)
- Child poverty: 20.8%
- Unemployment: 3.6%
Debt collection laws in Arkansas
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) regulates debt collectors throughout the United States, including in Arkansas. This federal law prohibits third-party debt collectors from:
- Harassing, threatening, or attempting to deceive an individual while attempting to collect a debt.
- Using unfair methods to try to collect on a debt
- Trying to collect interest or other fees not outlined in the debt contract
- Contacting a person by phone without first identifying who they are and why they’re calling.
- Willingly misrepresenting themselves or the debt owed
According to Arkansas law, a debt collection agency is any individual or business that collects debts on behalf of a creditor or lender. Arkansas law does exempt certain businesses and people from this definition, though. This includes any creditor who tries to collect on its own accounts using its own name. For a complete list of exemptions, refer to Arkansas Code Annotated §17-24-102.
Under Arkansas law, a collection agency must be licensed by the State Board of Collection Agencies. If it is not, they could be subject to a penalty between $50 and $500.
Debt relief options for Arkansas residents
If you need debt relief in Arkansas, here are your best options:
- Debt management plan (DMP): Nonprofit credit counseling companies offer DMPS to those struggling with large amounts of debt. The credit counselor serves as a middleman between you and your creditors to help reduce your monthly payments, waive late fees, or lower interest rates. DMPs usually last three to five years but can make it easier to repay unsecured debts.
- Debt consolidation loans: Debt consolidation loans let you combine multiple high-interest debts into a single loan. This option is best for those with good credit who can get a lower interest rate on the new loan.
- Debt settlement: Debt settlement is the process of negotiating with creditors for a lower total amount on an account you owe. You can do it yourself or through a debt settlement agency.
- DIY plans: If you’re dealing with difficult debt collectors and need to settle debt, consider a DIY plan. With one, you may be able to set up a repayment plan or reduce how much you owe.
- Bankruptcy: There are two main types of personal bankruptcy — Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Both can help get you back on track with your debts. However, they can also destroy your credit. Only file for bankruptcy as a last resort or when advised by an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
To learn more about Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arkansas, check out this video:
Debt settlement in Arkansas
Debt settlement may be an option if you:
- Have fallen behind on bills or can’t keep up with multiple monthly payments
- Regularly turn to high-interest credit cards, payday loans, or other expensive loans to pay daily expenses
- Are being harassed by debt collectors
- Are on the verge of filing for bankruptcy
While not always successful, a debt settlement plan could reduce how much you owe by up to 50% (after agency fees). In Arkansas, debt settlement could help you repay certain unsecured debts, such as:
- Credit cards or lines of credit
- Personal loans
- Department store cards
- Defaulted student loans
- Old judgments
- Other unsecured consumer debts
The Arkansas Attorney General’s website has more information about debt settlement and what to look for when choosing one. There you can find specific details about what to expect, including the potential risks and benefits of debt settlement. For example:
- The settled (forgiven) debt could be considered taxable income.
- Creditors are not required to agree to the terms of debt settlement, so there’s no guarantee it will work.
- The debt settlement agency may require you to stop making payments to your creditors (this could result in late fees or hurt your credit score).
Keep in mind that it is possible to settle your debts without an agency. The process can be tricky and time-consuming, so be prepared for that.
Arkansas debt settlement companies
Looking for debt relief in Arkansas? Here are some debt settlement companies to consider:
- Pacific Debt Solutions: Pacific Debt Relief 750 B Street Suite 1700 San Diego, CA 92101; (877) 722-3328 (for clients) or (833) 865-2028 (for non-clients)
- New Era Debt Solutions: New Era Debt Solutions 330 Wood Rd., Suite B Camarillo, CA 93010; (844) 772-5271 (debt specialist) or (800) 988-4387 (customer service)
- InCharge Debt Solutions: InCharge Debt Solutions. 5750 Major Blvd, Suite 300 Orlando, FL 32819; (888) 734-6229
- Curadebt: 4000 Hollywood Blvd. Suite 555-S Hollywood, FL 33021; (877) 850-3328
- Freedom Debt Relief: 2114 E Rio Salado Pkwy Tempe, AZ 85281-6230; (800) 910-0065
Debt settlement attorneys
Here are some highly-rated debt settlement attorneys in Arkansas who can help:
- Crawley Law Firm: 2702 S Culberhouse St Suite N, Jonesboro, AR 72401
- Hunter Law Firm: 514 W Washington Ave, Jonesboro, AR 72401
- Knollmeyer Law Firm: 2525 John Harden Dr, Jacksonville, AR 72076
- Niblock & Associates: 2804 E Race Ave, Searcy, AR 72143
- WH Law: 1 Riverfront Dr Suite 745, North Little Rock, AR 72114
- Hertzberg Law Firm: 4285 N Shiloh Dr #108, Fayetteville, AR 72703
Debt resources for Arkansas residents facing hardship
Arkansas has many resources for those facing financial hardship. This includes help with things like:
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Utility bills
- Childcare or education assistance
- Low-cost healthcare (particularly for minors)
- Food and nutrition assistance
Besides this, one in seven Arkansans faces hunger on a regular basis. While there are specific programs, like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), these are not always enough. That’s where food banks and pantries come in.
If you or someone you know is facing hunger in Arkansas, Feeding America has a locator tool to help find the nearest food bank. Some of the largest ones are:
- Arkansas Food Bank: 4301 W 65th Street, Little Rock AR 72209; (501) 565-8121
- Northwest Arkansas Food Bank: 1378 June Self Drive Springdale, AR, 72764; (479) 872-8774
- River Valley Regional Food Bank: 1617 South Zero Street (72901) PO Box 180070 Fort Smith, AR 72918; (479) 785-0582
- Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas: 3414 One Place, Jonesboro, AR 72404; (870) 932-3663
- Harvest Regional Food Bank: 3120 E. 19th St. Texarkana, AR 71854; (870) 774-1398
Income and employment in Arkansas
Arkansas’s unemployment was around 10% in 2020, but it has decreased significantly since then and is now 3.6%. Compared to other states, the state ranks 28th in terms of unemployment.
The state ranks 41 in job creation with 29,500 new jobs as of October 2022. This is a 2.95% increase from the previous year.
Arkansas is also an employment-at-will state, meaning an employer can terminate an employee with or without cause at any time. This often results in less job security for people.
The state is also a right-to-work state. What this means is that an individual may receive employment without joining a labor union. Right-to-work states tend to have less job security and lower wages than other states.
How to apply for unemployment benefits in Arkansas
To apply for unemployment benefits in Arkansas, go to the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services page. There, you will find basic information about applying for and receiving benefits. You’ll also gain access to the state’s unemployment information handbook.
At this point, here are the basic steps for obtaining unemployment insurance benefits:
- Start your initial claim on the EZARC website. You’ll need contact information — name, address, SSN, citizenship, etc. You’ll also need information about your previous employers, including the dates you worked there and their addresses. Finally, you’ll need banking information if you want to receive payments via direct deposit. The application typically takes about 30 minutes to complete.
- Once completing the application, call the UI hotline at 1-844-908-2178 for additional help.
- Next, verify your identity. Do this during the application or by going to a local Department of Welfare Services (DWS) office.
- Then, register an account on the Arkansas JobLink website. Here, you can also search for jobs.
- Finally, submit weekly claims to receive benefits. Do this either on the ArkNet website or by calling the ArkLine phone number: (501) 907-2590.
Banking and taxes in Arkansas
Arkansas’s income tax rate depends on the income amount. For individuals with a net income of $84,500 or less, it is:
- 0.0% for anything under $5,000
- 2.0% for $5,000 to $9,999
- 3.0% for $10,000 to $14,299
- 3.4% for 14,300 to $23,599
- 4.9% for $23,600 to $84,500
For Arkansans who make more than $84,500, the tax rates are:
- 2.0% for $0 to $4,300
- 4.0% for $4,301 to $8,500
- 4.9% for $8,501 and up
The state’s sales tax is 6.5%, slightly higher than the national average.
As for banking, 7.1% of Arkansas residents were unbanked in 2019, meaning they have no checking or savings account. This is only a 0.4% decrease from the previous estimate.
Arkansas housing market
According to Zillow, the average home value in Arkansas is $188,040, a 15.1% increase over the past year. This is significantly lower than the average home value in the United States, which is $357,589.
Around 65.8% of Arkansans own their home. On average, they pay roughly $1,094 a month for their mortgage, according to Business Insider. For comparison, the average rent payment ranges from $516 for a studio apartment to $1,065 for a four-bedroom apartment. The rent prices depend on various factors, including the neighborhood.
Arkansas homeowners may benefit from the Federal Homestead Exemption. This protects their property from creditors up to a certain amount:
- Up to $27,900 in an urban neighborhood
- Unlimited value on 80 rural acres
- 1/4 acres in an urban area
Retirement in Arkansas
The average Arkansan has $364,395 set aside for retirement, according to Personal Capital. However, the recommended amount to live comfortably in retirement is $595,746.
Average Arkansas insurance premiums
Arkansans pay around $1,914 a year for car insurance (full coverage), or $470 for minimum coverage. This is slightly higher than the national average, which is about $1,764.
The standard homeowners’ insurance premium for a home valued at $250,000 is $2,142 per year. This is about $103 a month.
Payday lending status in Arkansas: Prohibited
Payday loans are illegal in several states, including Arkansas. So, there is no:
- Maximum loan amount
- Maximum interest rate (APR)
- Minimum loan term
- Maximum loan term
Statute of limitations on debt in Arkansas
The statute of limitations is the time in which a debt collector or creditor can legally take you to court to pursue payment. In Arkansas, this period depends on the debt type:
- Medical debt: 2 years
- Auto loan debt: 4 years
- Mortgage debt: 5 years
- Credit card debt: 5 years
- State tax debt: 10 years
State hardship programs
Arkansas has various state-specific hardship programs for residents seeking financial assistance. These include:
- ARKids First: This health insurance program gives children coverage for preventative care. This includes things like checkups, eye exams, general dental work, and so forth. Contact them here: (888) 474-8275 or (501) 682-8292.
- SNAP: This government program offers up to several hundred dollars a month in food assistance through an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. It’s available to low-income households, those with a disability, and the working poor. Contact them here: (501) 371-1400.
- LIHEAP: LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps people by lowering the cost of their energy bills. Connect with one of Arkansas’s community-based organizations here.
- TANF: The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program provides financial assistance to eligible families and individuals. In Arkansas, the program is also referred to as TEA, or Transitional Employment Assistance.
- Medicaid: This federal program can help certain individuals who need help with the cost of health insurance or childcare.
- Arkansas Fresh Start: If you’re facing eviction, this program could help through rental assistance payments.
Other state-specific programs include:
- Arkansas 211 (for free referrals to essential health-related services)
- Access Arkansas (for DHS benefits)
- Findhelp.org (for bill pay and food assistance)
- HUD Rental Assistance (for help finding affordable housing)
For more hardship options, check with the Arkansas Trauma Rehabilitation Program.
Help for Veterans
As of 2020, Arkansas was home to 211,003 veterans. The Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs offers various resources to help veterans who are currently facing homelessness, unemployment, or other economic hardships.
Facilities in Arkansas
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a complete directory of VA offices in Arkansas. Some major facilities include:
- Fayetteville VA Medical Center: 1100 North College Avenue Fayetteville, AR 72703-1944; (479) 443-4301
- John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans’ Hospital: 4300 West Seventh Street Little Rock, AR 72205-5446; (501) 257-1000
- Little Rock VA Clinic: 1000 Main Street Little Rock, AR 72201-3820; (501) 244-1900
- Little Rock Regional Office: 2200 Fort Roots Drive, Building 65 North Little Rock, AR 72114; (800) 827-1000
- Fort Smith National Cemetery: 522 Garland Avenue and South 6th Street Fort Smith, AR 72901; (479) 783-5345
- Little Rock National Cemetery: 2523 Springer Boulevard Little Rock, AR 72206; (479) 783-5345
Employment resources for Veterans
Are you a veteran in Arkansas looking for help finding employment? Here are some options:
- CareerOneStop is a one-stop shop for those seeking career advice, job resources, or an online job portal.
- VeteranRecruiting.com offers virtual career fairs for military spouses and veterans.
- Helmets to Hardhats works with active military members and veterans to help them move into a civilian construction career.
- Hiring Our Heroes helps veterans, military personnel, and military spouses find work and improve their job education.
- My Next Move works with veterans to help them start a civilian career that uses their military-earned skills.
- Warriors to Work connects veterans and potential employers, as well as helps veterans improve their job education and resumes.
The bottom line
Whether you’re looking for debt relief in Arkansas or need help getting back on track financially, the state offers many state and federal programs. Depending on your needs, you could receive help with things like bill payment, nutrition assistance, healthcare, or education. Most of these options are meant to provide short-term or immediate relief. However, some can offer longer-term assistance.
This depends on the debt, but most debts can be collected for two to 10 years.
The statute of limitations on debts begins on the date of your most recent payment. However, if you acknowledge a debt you’ve defaulted on in writing, the statute will begin again.
If you acquired the debt during the marriage, most courts will divide it equally between you and your spouse. If your spouse had the debt before the marriage, it will typically be considered their sole responsibility.