Every year, thousands of Oklahoma students are unable to attend college because of the expense. In an effort to ensure that all students can pursue their dream of obtaining a college education, Sen. Jim Wilson has filed legislation to provide low income students with a two year scholarship.
“Education is the best economic development tool we have. The facts are simple. College graduates make more money than those who only have high school diplomas,” said Wilson, D-Tahlequah. “College graduates also spend more money than their counterparts, which ultimately benefits the state through increased tax revenues because their homes, cars and lifestyle are more expensive. The future financial benefits for the state far outweigh the initial cost of helping provide the college educations.”
Senate Bill 415, also known as the Second Century Promise Act, is similar to legislation introduced in 2007 by former Sen. Kenneth Corn. Wilson’s bill will compliment the current statewide scholarship program, Oklahoma’s Promise, formerly known as OHLAP, by offering students, whose families have an adjusted gross income in the bottom eighty percentile, up to two years of tuition and fees to a community college, career tech or four year college or university in the state.
In order to be eligible for the Second Century Promise program, high school students must be a resident of the state, have a minimum cumulative G.P.A. of 2.0 or score at least 19 on the ACT.
“Oklahoma is lagging in the number of college graduates compared to surrounding states. Providing these scholarships will help make our state more competitive economically,” said Wilson. “Having more college graduates will strengthen our state’s economy by attracting higher paying jobs and will help improve the quality of life for all of our citizens.”
Any student completing thirty credit hours at an Oklahoma two or four year institution who maintains a cumulative G.P.A. of 2.5 will also be eligible for the Oklahoma’s Promise benefits, which includes free tuition to any Oklahoma four-year college or university.
It’s estimated the Second Century Promise program would help over 6,000 students costing an estimated $14 million the first year and $25 million the second.
Wilson also introduced a complimentary funding component for the Second Century Promise program under SB 140, which would create a beverage container recycling deposit fund. The recycling deposits that went unredeemed by consumers – initially estimated to be $30 million per year – would go into the Second Century Promise Trust Fund. At any time, if the beverage container deposit fund was not sufficient as a funding source, the additional monies would be taken from gross production revenues.
“These two measures create a win-win situation for all Oklahomans,” said Wilson. “With their implementation, we will be able to offer scholarships to thousands more students every year ultimately growing our economy while also helping keep our state beautiful and litter free.”