More of Oklahoma’s students will soon be able to take advantage of Oklahoma’s Promise, the state’s free tuition program, following the signing of Senate Bill 132.
The bill’s author, Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, said it will provide students more time to decide whether they want to go to college or a career tech by allowing public and private school students to apply up through the 11th grade or up to the age of 17 for home-schooled students.
“Kids mature at different rates, and while some may know in the 8th grade that they’re going to college, others may not make that decision until they’re in high school,” Bullard said. “This will provide more opportunities for Oklahoma students to pursue a higher education and fully utilize this outstanding program.”
Currently, public and private school students can apply for the state tuition scholarship program, also known as the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) any time between their 8th and 10th grade years while nontraditional students can apply up to the age of 16. The bill further expands eligibility to 11th grade public and private school students and 17-year-old home-schooled students. Applicants must also be an Oklahoma resident and have a federally adjusted annual gross family income of $55,000 or less, which will increase to $60,000 starting with the 2021-2022 school year.
Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, is the principal House author of SB 132.
“Allowing an extra year for students to sign up for the Oklahoma Promise scholarship will ensure a greater number of students are able to attend college,” Baker said. “Equipping our young people with college degrees will pay dividends for our state far into the future.”
There are currently about 30,000 high school students enrolled in the program and around 15,000 students attending college on an OHLAP scholarship.
The new law will become effective July 1, 2021.