More of Oklahoma's students could have the opportunity to pursue a higher education thanks to a measure approved Wednesday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Sen. Mary Easley is author of Senate Bill 471 which would increase the income eligibility level for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP), also known as Oklahoma’s Promise.
"One of the best ways to spur economic growth and attract more industries and businesses to our state is to have more college graduates, and this bill will make that happen," said Easley, D-Tulsa. "By making this small change in the income requirement, we're going to be able to help thousands more students reach their dream of getting a college degree."
Currently, in order to be eligible for the program a student’s parents can make no more than $50,000 a year, but SB 471 would increase that to $75,000.
“Expanding the program would offer more educational opportunities to Oklahoma’s middle class by making 75 percent of Oklahoma’s high school students eligible for the tuition scholarship program,” said Easley. “Education is the greatest gift you can give a person. It’s a gift that has been given to so many of Oklahoma’s students through this tremendous program, and now it’s time that we help even more of our students reach their full potential.”
The bill was also amended to allow the income requirement to be based on a family’s yearly salary or a three-year average. Easley explained the change was necessary for those families whose incomes are so close to the maximum amount that if they happen to make more than normal during a year their child would become ineligible. By doing a three-year average of the family income that type of situation is less likely to occur.
SB 471 will next be considered by the full Senate.