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April 14, 2005 :: Scholarships, Prizes Available Through Oklahoma GEAR UP Essay Contest

Media Contact: Amy Bruce
Office: 1.405.225.9281

Oklahoma students in the fifth through 12th grade can earn scholarships and educational prizes through the Oklahoma GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) essay contest, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education announced recently.

To enter, students should submit an original essay of their own work, of no more than 1,000 words, describing how GEAR UP activities or information have better prepared them for college. The essay must be accompanied by an entry application and a release form and be submitted by Monday, May 2. Senior entrants must plan to attend an Oklahoma college or university in fall 2005.

“The GEAR UP essay contest is a great way for students to share their stories and to use their voices to explain how the GEAR UP program has helped them learn about preparing for college,” said Chancellor Paul G. Risser.

For information, guidelines and entry forms, visit or call 800.858.1840. Students may also e-mail or ask their English teacher or counselor for entry materials.

Statewide, seven winners in each of the grade levels, will be selected, for a total of 56 winners. The seven 12th-grade winners will receive certificates and one-time scholarships of $2,000 to be used at an Oklahoma college or university of their choice this fall. Winners in grades five through 11 will receive certificates and other educational prizes.

Entries will be judged by education professionals in another state, and winners will be notified no later than June 2005.

Any Oklahoma student in the fifth through 12th grade who has benefited from preparing for college activities, information, materials or programs promoted through GEAR UP is eligible for the contest. State Regents employees and their family members are not eligible.

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 the addition of year six federal funding, Oklahoma's GEAR UP program has received approximately $25 million in federal funds since 1999. GEAR UP receives 50 percent of total funding from the federal government and 50 percent from other organizations.