More Oklahoma students could qualify for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) under legislation approved Thursday by the Senate. SB 354, by Sen. David Myers, would modify the state tuition program by allowing the income requirement to be based on a family’s yearly salary or a three-year average.
"Unfortunately, we don't have the funding this year to increase the income eligibility requirements, but we can help more students qualify or stay in the program by making this small change," said Myers, R-Ponca City. "We have many families whose annual incomes are so close to the $50,000 a year income cap that if they have a better than normal year and make over that amount, their child is kicked out of the program. Allowing for a three-year average would help keep more of our students in the program."
Myers explained that an amount as small as last year's tax rebate check has put families over the limit and made their children ineligible.
Currently, students of families with annual incomes of $50,000 or less are eligible for the program. Under Myers' bill, the income level would still have to be below $50,000 but could be based on a three-year average.
"This provides families with a little cushion if they're close to the cutoff," said Myers. "It's unfair to punish students by taking away this incredible opportunity because their parents made a little more than normal one year. This bill will fix this problem and help ensure that more of our students can obtain their dream of a higher education."
SB 354 now moves to the House for further consideration.