The Pryor Times

Opinion

February 6, 2014

College scholarships

PRYOR, OK — A bill I have proposed in the Legislature will create a scholarship for Oklahoma students who complete all their requirements for graduation from high school by the end of the 11th grade.

Many high school students have completed most of their graduation requirements by the end of their junior year. They take only a couple of classes as seniors and a significant number are out of school by noon each day during their senior year. Under my proposal, if a student completes these requirements by the end of their junior year they will be entitled to a state scholarship equal to 80 percent of the amount the state would spend for their senior year in high school. The scholarship program, known as the Oklahoma Early College Scholarship Program, will have to be used at an Oklahoma accredited college or university or a postsecondary vocational-technical school. Unlike many scholarships, this one can be used to cover not only tuition, but also the fees assessed by the school.

Although not a large amount of money, this scholarship would be very appreciated by the students and may help encourage some of them to complete high school early and then continue their education.

The Oklahoma Early College Scholarship Program is an idea suggested to me by Terry Jones, a Grove school board member. It has been used successfully in several other states. School districts should be supportive of this program because they will still receive 20 percent of state dollars for the student who has left their school, and is now in college or vo-tech, even though they will have no associated expense.

This scholarship bill, like all legislative bills, will face an uphill struggle. Last year only about 400 of well over 2,000 bills made it through the Legislature to become law. We will see what happens.

While my bill is being studied and debated in the Legislature, I want to remind everyone that all Oklahoma high-school juniors and seniors with good grades are able to take college courses with no tuition expense while they are still in high school.  This is the best education bargain in the United States, and I encourage every 10th, 11th and 12th-grade student to talk to their school counselor about this program!

Tax forms. For those of you who file your state income tax by written form, rather than computer, I have placed forms in local libraries in the towns of Grove, Salina, Jay and Ketchum. Or you may obtain a form by calling my office at 405-557-7415 and we will be happy to mail one two you at no expense.

Once again, thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative. I can be reached at dougcox@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7415.

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