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Chancellor's Column - september 2003  

It’s Never Too Early to Start Planning for College

This fall, more Oklahomans than ever have enrolled in a state college or university. This is great news not only for the students who will benefit financially in the years ahead, but also for our state. The most recent studies show that 86 percent of Oklahoma graduates remain in the state a year after getting their bachelor’s degrees. This means that our college graduates are finding jobs, staying in Oklahoma and contributing to their communities in many ways.

Increased college enrollment is due, in part, to higher education’s dedication to college preparation and our partnership over the past decade with the Oklahoma State Department of Education and State Superintendent Sandy Garrett. As a result, students are better prepared and more interested in college. In fact, many of our programs are models for the rest of the country, and the continuous increases in ACT participation show they are working.

Parents can continue to do their part by encouraging their children to start planning for college early. Students in the eighth through 12th grade and their parents should be on the lookout for the latest edition of our annual preparing for college brochure that was recently mailed to school counselors.

The State Regents’ college preparation efforts don’t end there. We help middle school and high school students with our college planning programs like GEAR UP and EPAS, an assessment system that includes the EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT tests.

We are also working to keep college affordable. Interest continues to grow in the OHLAP scholarship program for qualified students whose family incomes are under $50,000. And we partner with Oklahoma State Treasurer Robert Butkin to offer the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan, an easy, tax-advantaged way to begin saving for college.

Our state has a well-deserved reputation for having a higher education system that is affordable and accessible. I urge all families with children to start planning for college now.

Oklahoma’s GEAR UP 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.