A measure to simplify the criteria for students to be eligible for in-state tuition at Oklahoma colleges and universities has been approved by the state Senate.
Under Senate Bill 1624, authored by Sen. John Sparks, if a student is a United States citizen and an Oklahoma resident at the time they graduate from an Oklahoma high school, they will always be eligible for in-state tuition. Sparks said his proposal will make it easier for many native Oklahomans to pursue their educational goals in Oklahoma.
“This bill lets native Oklahomans know they are always welcome to come back home,” said Sparks, D-Norman. “By passing this bill into law, we’re also making it easier for a significant number of Oklahomans to get the education they need to be qualified for high-paying jobs. As we look to draw employers and investment to Oklahoma, it’s important we continue finding new ways to broaden our pool of educated workers.”
Sparks said he was motivated to file SB 1624 after hearing of several instances where Oklahoma high school graduates had briefly moved out of state and were unable to qualify for in-state tuition when considering a return to their home state.
“It’s simply unreasonable to ask Oklahomans to pay out-of-state tuition rates because they lived out of state a few months too long,” Sparks said. “This has even happened to members of families who have been living here and paying taxes for generations. If that person wants to come back to Oklahoma for college, they should know we want them here.”
Sparks said the measure could draw some of the state’s best and brightest back to Oklahoma.
“This is a bill that can help us bring back some of the people we really need – people interested in attending our medical schools or other advanced degree programs,” Sparks said. “Just as we have to remain proactive and creative to compete for employers who could locate their businesses anywhere, we have create to incentives to attract the talented people who will ultimately fill those jobs.”