The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education recently named nine Oklahoma high schools “Oklahoma’s Promise 2009 State Champions” for leading the state in the number of graduates earning a state scholarship that offers free college tuition.
The top schools were recognized within each class for having the most graduates who qualified to receive Oklahoma’s Promise, a state scholarship that allows students from families whose annual income is $50,000 or less to earn free college tuition.
“These high schools are to be commended for supporting and promoting the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship program to their students,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Oklahoma’s Promise is recognized by many as America’s best college access program and is considered a model which emphasizes both academic preparation and financial support for college. Through this program, thousands of students are able to achieve the dream of a college education.”
High schools named Oklahoma’s Promise 2009 State Champions are:
- Champion: Wapanucka with 19 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
- Runner-up: Cherokee with 13 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
- Champions: Burns Flat-Dill City, Velma-Alma and Wright City each with 16 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
- Runners-up: Allen, Ft. Cobb-Broxton and Okeene each with 15 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
- Champion: Dove Science Academy, Oklahoma City, with 29 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
- Runner-up: Hobart with 22 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
- Champion: Westville with 29 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
- Runner-up: Sperry with 22 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
- Champion: Santa Fe South, Oklahoma City, with 51 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
- Runner-up: Broken Bow with 46 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
- Champion: Booker T. Washington, Tulsa, with 68 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
- Runner-up: Tahlequah with 53 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
- Champion: Broken Arrow with 94 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
- Runner-up: Tulsa Union with 82 Oklahoma’s Promise graduates
Oklahoma’s Promise was created in 1992 by the Legislature to help more Oklahoma families send their children to college. Its goal is to prepare students academically for college and to provide them financial assistance. The scholarship 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 or a portion of tuition for courses at public technology centers that are approved for credit toward an Associate of Applied Science degree at a public college.
To be eligible for Oklahoma’s Promise, students must apply during the eighth, ninth or 10th grade, and their family’s annual income must not exceed $50,000 when they apply. To receive the scholarship at graduation, students must achieve a minimum 2.5 (C+) grade point average in 17 core courses that prepare them for college and an overall GPA of 2.5 or better for grades nine through 12. Oklahoma’s Promise graduates also must attend class regularly and refrain from drug and alcohol abuse and delinquent acts.
In order to receive the scholarship in college, students enrolling in the program after July 1, 2007, must be U.S. citizens or lawfully present in the United States by the time they begin college. Beginning with college students receiving the scholarship for the first time in 2012, a student’s family income must not exceed $100,000 at the time the student goes to college.
Since 2005, close to 10,000 students from each 10th-grade class have enrolled in the program, with the 2010 graduating class exceeding 10,000 students.
In 2008, the State Regents launched a three-year campaign aimed at increasing enrollment in and awareness of Oklahoma’s Promise. Television, radio and print ads run in the fall and spring. The ads target parents and stress enrolling their students in Oklahoma’s Promise before the June 30 deadline.
During the current 2009-10 year, almost 19,000 students are expected to receive the scholarship at a cost of $52.6 million. The State Regents have approved a funding estimate for Oklahoma Promise of $57 million for FY 2011, when some 19,600 students are projected to receive the scholarship. In 2007, the Legislature approved a permanent, dedicated funding source for the program from the state’s general revenue fund. This change ensures the program will be fully funded each year from a stable source of revenue.