Several Oklahoma high schools are celebrating state championships this fall, and they are not necessarily from the gridiron or softball field.
In a recent ceremony, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education recognized one high school from each class as OHLAP “State Champions.” The schools were honored for having the most 2004 graduates in the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP), the state scholarship program that provides free college tuition to high school students who meet certain eligibility requirements.
“These high schools truly deserve to be recognized and praised for the work they do in making sure their students and their families know about OHLAP and what opportunities the scholarships afford them,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “OHLAP plays an important role in helping our state produce more college graduates. It’s designed to encourage students to aspire for college, prepare them to succeed academically and provide them with financial assistance. We thank all of our state high schools for helping promote this very worthwhile program.”
Tahlequah took top honors in Class 6A with 54 OHLAP graduates. Del City was runner-up with 45 OHLAP graduates.
Other OHLAP State Champions recognized were Shawnee with 45 graduates, Class 5A; Broken Bow with 43 graduates, Class 4A; and Pawhuska with 28 graduates, Class 3A.
Walters took Class 2A honors with 19 OHLAP graduates. Cherokee and Hydro-Eakly tied in Class A with 19 graduates each, while Webbers Falls was named the Class B Champion with 10 OHLAP graduates.
Besides Del City, other runners-up were Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington, Class 5A; Clinton and Oklahoma City’s Northeast Academy (tie), Class 4A; Sulphur, Class 3A; Colbert and Sayre (tie), Class 2A; Tipton, Class A; and Battiest, Class B.
The State Regents also recognized high schools that have had the most OHLAP graduates from 1996 through 2004. That group included Tahlequah (6A), McAlester (5A), Broken Bow (4A), Fairview (3A), Sayre (2A), Timberlake (A) and Leedey (B). Runners-up were Enid (6A), Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington (5A), Locust Grove (4A), Sulphur (3A), Hollis (2A), Mountain View-Gotebo (A) and Coyle (B).
OHLAP, which was created by the Oklahoma Legislature in 1992, is designed to help middle and high school students from families earning $50,000 or less a year who have demonstrated a commitment to academic success. The scholarship is good for up to five years at any public college or university in the state. It will also cover a portion of the tuition at an accredited private institution or for select courses at technology centers.
The high school graduating class of 1996 was the first to sign up for OHLAP scholarships, and since then, more than 47,000 students from some 450 different high schools representing all 77 counties have enrolled in the program. Students completing the program have earned OHLAP scholarships totaling more than $23 million. The scholarships are paid from funds provided by the Oklahoma Legislature.
To earn an OHLAP scholarship, students must sign up for the program in the eighth, ninth or 10th grade, meet the family income requirement, attend classes regularly, complete homework assignments and maintain a minimum 2.5 (C+) grade point average in the 15 courses required for college admission plus two additional courses. In addition, students must refrain from drug abuse or delinquent acts.
The latest projections for OHLAP show that enrollment continues to increase each year, as do the costs of the program. Enrollment from last year’s 10th-grade class is almost 8,000 students, an increase of about 300 students from the previous 10th-grade class. Higher education officials project scholarship expenses will increase by almost $9 million for 2005-06. In addition, total scholarship recipients are projected to rise to almost 18,000 students in three years, costing the state anywhere from $40 million to $50 million more a year, depending on enrollment, the number of completers and tuition rates.
The State Regents note that students enrolled in OHLAP tend to have above-average high school grade point averages, ACT scores and college-going rates. In addition, OHLAP students have above-average college persistence and degree completion rates.
For more information on OHLAP, please call 1.800.858.1840 or visit the OHLAP Web site.