Time is running out for students just finishing the eighth, ninth or 10th grade who want to enroll in one of Oklahoma’s most successful and popular state college scholarship programs.
Students can sign up for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) until June 30. OHLAP is a scholarship program that has already helped thousands of Oklahoma students by allowing high school students from families with incomes of $50,000 or less to earn free college tuition. The scholarship is good for up to five years to 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 career technology centers.
“This program is a terrific incentive for students who have a real desire to attend college,” Chancellor Paul Risser said. “Throughout the state, we are seeing the positive effects it has had on students’ academics and character. It would be a real shame if a student missed this opportunity to sign up this year and not take advantage of the opportunity to earn a tuition scholarship.”
The Oklahoma Legislature created OHLAP in 1992 to help middle and high school students who have demonstrated a commitment to academic success, with their college expenses. The program was fully funded this year by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education despite cuts to other programs.
To earn an OHLAP scholarship, students must sign up for the program in the eighth, ninth or 10th grade. They must also attend class regularly, complete homework assignments, and complete a 17-unit curriculum and pass those courses with at least a 2.5 grade point average. Students must also agree to stay out of serious trouble and avoid drugs and alcohol.
Since its inception, more than 35,000 students have enrolled in the program. An estimated 6,000 students will receive OHLAP scholarships next fall, and that number could possibly grow to 20,000 students by 2008.
Officials earlier this year worried that there wouldn’t be enough state funds to cover the costs of the program for 2003-04 because of the state’s budget crisis. However, the State Regents reallocated funds through the reduction and suspension of other programs to fully fund the OHLAP scholarships. The program required an additional $6.3 million to total $11 million for 2003-04, and approximately $8 million more will be needed for 2004-05. Based on current growth patterns, OHLAP could cost $19 million in 2004-05, $27 million in 2005-06 and $37 million in 2006-07.
Applications for 2002-03 10th-grade students must be received no later than June 30, 2003. This is the last opportunity for these students to apply for OHLAP, since the program is not open to enrollment for high school juniors and seniors.
Applications for 8th- and 9th-grade students will also be accepted through June 30. However, this year’s 8th- and 9th-grade students may also continue to enroll in OHLAP during the 2003-04 school year.
For more information on OHLAP, please call 1-800-858-1840 or visit the OHLAP Web site at www.okhighered.org/ohlap.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma with a state GEAR UP grant totaling $20.5 million in August 1999. The grant has been matched by more than $25 million from state and partner resources. With funds totaling $45.5 million, GEAR UP receives 45 percent of total funding from the federal government and 55 percent from other organizations.