More than 200 students, faculty, representatives from Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities, and other supporters gathered at the state Capitol Tuesday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship program, to show appreciation for the Governor and Legislature’s ongoing support of the program, and to encourage legislators to continue to fund the program.
Formerly known as the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP), Oklahoma’s Promise was created in 1992 by the state Legislature to help more Oklahoma families send their children to college.
“Our state made a promise 25 years ago to qualified students and their families that Oklahoma would help pay for their college tuition if the student committed in high school to make good grades, take the required course work and stay out of trouble. We have kept that promise,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “We want to take this opportunity to thank Governor Fallin and our legislators for their continued support of the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship, which has helped more than 75,000 Oklahoma students achieve the dream of going to college since the program’s inception.”
Nationally recognized as one of the country’s best college access programs, Oklahoma’s Promise is a transformational model that combines emphases on academic preparation and financial support for college. The scholarship program pays tuition at any Oklahoma public college or university until the student receives a bachelor’s degree or for five years, whichever comes first. It will also cover a portion of tuition at an accredited Oklahoma private institution. The scholarship does not cover the cost of fees, books, or room and board.
To be eligible, students must apply during the eighth, ninth or 10th grade, and their family’s annual income must not exceed $50,000 when they apply. A student’s family income also must not exceed $100,000 at the time the student goes to college.
During the current academic year, approximately 18,000 students are expected to receive the scholarship in college. Approximately 18,000 students are also projected to receive the scholarship next year.
To be eligible for the scholarship at graduation, students must achieve a minimum 2.50 GPA in 17 core courses that prepare them for college and an overall GPA of 2.50 or better for all courses in grades nine through 12. While a minimum 2.50 GPA is required, Oklahoma’s Promise graduates achieve an average high school GPA of 3.41. Oklahoma’s Promise graduates also must attend class regularly and refrain from drug and alcohol abuse and delinquent acts.
Students completing the Oklahoma’s Promise program continue to be successful academically, with high school GPAs that exceed the state average, ACT scores that exceed those of their comparable middle- and lower-income peers, and higher-than-average freshman college GPAs.
The college-going rate of Oklahoma’s Promise students exceeds the state average for high school graduates — 87 percent compared to 44 percent. They also have above-average full-time college enrollment, persistence and degree-completion rates. In addition, Oklahoma’s Promise college graduates secure jobs and stay in Oklahoma after college at a higher rate than non-Oklahoma’s Promise graduates — 87.3 percent compared to 84.8 percent.