Sen. Kenneth Corn on Thursday said one of the state’s greatest impediments to economic growth is a lack of college graduates. The Poteau Democrat announced plans to file legislation that would provide qualifying high school graduates with two years of tuition at Oklahoma colleges and universities.
Corn pointed to a recent report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education that gave Oklahoma a failing grade on affordability, and said that far too many Oklahoma families are simply unable to afford college tuition. In addition to the bill, Corn has filed a legislative referendum, which would place the proposal on the ballot for approval or rejection by Oklahoma voters.
“If the Legislature doesn’t have the courage to act on this proposal, then let the people decide,” said Corn, D-Poteau. “An education is a right, not a privilege. This proposal would provide hope to those who want our state to be an attractive destination for business and industry, in addition to many Oklahoma students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to achieve their dream of a higher education.”
The Second Century Promise Act would enable many students currently ineligible for OHLAP to qualify for scholarships that could help them complete their first two years of college. Qualifying students would have to maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA during their first two years and perform community service as a commitment to the state.
Corn noted that a similar proposal was approved by the state legislature in North Carolina, where the program has been a great success.
“We have an opportunity to make a critical investment in our future, and provide hope to many students,” Corn said. “It’s going to require forward-thinking proposals to give our state a chance to compete for good jobs with good wages. It’s time for the Legislature to take action and make the necessary investments to build a strong foundation for economic growth.”