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June 22, 2005 :: Deadline Approaches for State Scholarship Program

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June 30 is the last chance for students who just finished 10th grade to sign up for one of Oklahoma’s most successful and popular state college scholarship programs.

The Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) is a scholarship program that allows high school students from families whose annual income is $50,000 or less to earn free college tuition. 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 public technology centers.

“OHLAP is one of our most talked-about scholarships because it can benefit so many Oklahoma families and its eligibility requirements are very straightforward,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “We now also call it ‘Oklahoma’s Promise’ because it’s a commitment: students promise to get ready for college and our state promises to pay their tuition.”

To earn an OHLAP scholarship, students must sign up for the program in the eighth, ninth or 10th grade. They must attend class regularly, take a 17-unit curriculum and pass those courses with at least a 2.5 grade point average (GPA), and achieve at least an overall 2.5 GPA. Students must also agree to stay out of serious trouble and avoid drugs and alcohol.

Since its inception, more than 52,000 students have enrolled in the program. An estimated 12,000 students will receive OHLAP scholarships this coming fall, and that number is expected to increase to nearly 20,000 by 2008.

In an effort to increase awareness about this important scholarship, an OHLAP marketing campaign targeted students and families in urban areas of the state. The campaign explains the scholarship program and features Oklahoma students. The radio ads, billboards and mall advertising in Tulsa, Lawton, Oklahoma City and Muskogee were paid for by Oklahoma GEAR UP, a federally funded program designed to help students and their families prepare for college.

The Oklahoma Legislature created OHLAP in 1992 as an incentive for middle and high school students to commit to academic success and prepare for college.

During this spring’s legislative session, state lawmakers targeted a total of $27.1 million to pay for next year’s scholarship obligations. This amount includes $15.9 million from general state revenues, $4 million from anticipated lottery revenues and $7.2 million from expected gaming revenues.

To learn how to sign up for OHLAP, call 1.800.858.1840 or visit the Oklahoma higher education Web site at

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.