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September 16, 2005 :: Pilot Program Offers Tuition Waivers for High School Seniors

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A new program designed to help qualified students earn college credit while still in high school was approved recently by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

The 2005-06 pilot program requires Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities to waive tuition for up to six hours per semester for each concurrently enrolled high school senior.

“Many bright and deserving high school seniors will be able to get a head start in college thanks to these tuition waivers,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “Our state needs more college graduates, so we are hopeful that this program will encourage more students to attend college and earn a degree.”

Since it is early in the fall semester, the number of students concurrently enrolled and the associated costs to the institutions will not be known for some time. However, higher education officials estimate that the tuition waivers may run approximately $2 million.

Under current State Regents’ policy, the total cost of tuition waivers for resident students cannot exceed 3.5 percent of the institution’s operating budget. Tuition waived as part of the pilot program would be exempt from that requirement.

During the spring semester, State Regents staff will conduct a comprehensive study of the program and then make recommendations to the State Regents concerning various issues, including reimbursement and eligibility.

State Regents introduced the pilot program after Oklahoma lawmakers passed Senate Bill 982 last spring, which entitles eligible high school seniors to a waiver of tuition for up to six credit hours per semester, subject to the availability of funds. Students would be responsible for any fees incurred, along with the cost of books and supplies.