College Financial Aid in Oklahoma
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The State Regents for Higher Education oversees the Oklahoma State University System. Within Oklahoma, two-dozen state colleges and universities are divided regionally: Northwest, Southwest, Northeast (including Metro Tulsa), Southeast and Metro Oklahoma City; providing educational opportunities at all collegiate levels.
State-funded scholarships and grants are widespread, and serve as supplements to perennial federal financial aid like Pell Grants and Federal Direct Loans. As an Oklahoma college student, use the state’s Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP) to illuminate state financial resources and other financial aid opportunities.
General Scholarships and Grants
Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grants (OTAG) make it possible for all state students to pursue college degrees – regardless of economic standing. Need-based funds are disbursed to students enrolled at approved state colleges, universities and career technology centers. Significant financial need, as demonstrated by each applicant’s Expected Family Contribution, is a prerequisite for qualification. For priority OTAG consideration, students are advised to file FAFSA requests well in advance of federal deadlines.
Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant provides assistance to students who are able to prove economic need, but the grants also go to middle-income applicants. Awards are reserved for private school students within the state who are enrolled in a full-time undergraduate programs. Qualified applicants are in line for grants worth up to $2000 per academic year.
The Oklahoma Higher Education Access Program, or Oklahoma’s Promise, is similar in design to the federally funded GEAR Up! Program. The mission of the initiative is to groom well-heeled students as they approach their college years. Families with annual household incomes below $50,000 are eligible to participate in the program. Essentially, The Promise requires students to commit to positive scholastic outcomes early in their academic careers. By maintaining good grades and staying out of trouble, successful participants earn valuable college scholarships. To foster well-prepared high school graduates, eligibility for the program requires students to enroll in specific coursework throughout high school.
Academic high-achievers qualify for Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarships that recognize a few high school seniors from every state annually. Qualified students are at the top of their graduating classes in ACT scores and GPA. They also exhibit strong leadership and community service interests, as determined by school officials who nominate them from accredited colleges and universities. Byrd scholarships are valued $1500 each, and are renewable for 3 years. The program is a joint effort funded by the Federal Government and administered by the state education agencies that distribute funding.
Oklahoma’s Academic Scholars Program rewards the cream of the academic crop within the state. Outstanding performers are eligible for college cash that covers books, tuition, fees and other approved educational expenses. Students qualify for the program automatically, by achieving National Merit Scholar status or scoring above the 99.5 percentile on ACT or SAT.
Oklahoma students attending any of 11 participating public universities are eligible for Regional University Baccalaureate Scholarships. Academically promising students are chosen for scholarship assistance by receiving one of fifteen nominations put-forth by each campus annually. Participating schools:
- East Central
- Northeastern State
- University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
The program works to retain Oklahoma’s academic talent by supporting educational pursuits of the best and brightest in-state scholastic performers. Successful applicants have top tier ACT scores and maintain above average GPAs. Qualified students receive up to $3000 per school year.
The Foster Care Tuition Waiver is available to those Oklahoma students pursuing college degrees full-time after participating in the state’s foster care program. To qualify, each adopted or foster care students must:
- Be an Oklahoma resident
- Have graduated from high school within the past three years
- Have been in foster care system for at least nine months, between the ages of 16-18
- Be enrolled in an accredited state public college or university
- Not have reached his or her 26th birthday
- Not have earned a bachelor’s degree previously
Any college-aged member of the Oklahoma National Guard is eligible for an Oklahoma National Guard Tuition Waiver. National Guard Students are also eligible for supplementary funds contributed by the Oklahoma National Guard Association Scholarship Foundation. Awards from the Foundation cover books and other non-tuition expenses. Additional military-related financial aid is outlined on our Military Scholarships Page; including Federal Tuition Assistance.
Specialized Studies Scholarships and Grants
In many states, students pursuing college credentials in high-need fields are rewarded with grants, scholarships and tuition forgiveness programs. Medical fields like nursing and physician’s assistant need greater staffing, so recruiting efforts use generous school financing to lure qualified students into educational programs. In return for financial aid, students are sometimes required to trade service at critical need facilities.
Teachers are in short supply - especially in low-income areas. In exchange for tuition offsets, well-trained teachers commit to work serving underprivileged populations. Oklahoma maintains such a program, which mimics efforts established by Federal TEACH Grants.
High demand fields lure scholarship dollars, but other industries support education too. These examples illustrate government and private sector efforts to subsidize specific career pursuits in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma’s Teacher Shortage Employment Incentive Program provides tuition and student loan repayment options for teaching students enrolled in Oklahoma state colleges and universities. The initiative strives to recruit and retain highly trained science and math teachers within the state. Qualified participants earn loan reimbursement by meeting these standards:
- Complete approved teacher education
- Complete student teaching
- Earn valid Math and Science teacher certifications for secondary school teachers in Oklahoma.
- Agree to teach for at least five years at critical needs schools in the state.
Future Teachers Scholarships provide educational funding for teaching students enrolled in state university teaching programs who are willing to work as teachers in critical-shortage areas following graduation. Additionally, qualified professionals must be pursuing specializations in science, math, special education or school psychology.
Academic performance is considered as part of the selection process, and teaching commitments of at least three years are required to participate. Awards vary based on school schedule, and each applicant must be recommended by his or her college.
Unique Oklahoma scholarship programs support a variety of vocations, including the Chiropractic Education Assistance Scholarship, which awards financial assistance to outstanding chiropractic students. Winners are chosen based on scholastic standing and apply through the State Board of Regents. Qualified applicants compete for scholarships valued at up to $6000 each, by exhibiting these qualities:
- Oklahoma resident for at least five years
- Enrolled or accepted at accredited chiropractic college
- Meet standards set forth by the Oklahoma State Board of Chiropractic Examiners
- Able to maintain 3.0 GPA
Students pursuing degrees to launch them toward careers in the public services sector should keep their eye on the George and Donna Nigh Scholarship; sponsored by the Nigh Institute. Determinations are made based on academic merit. Eligible students are enrolled full-time at state colleges and universities. Participation in the scholarship program includes completion of public service seminars conducted by the Nigh Institute. The nomination process requires presidents of colleges and universities in Oklahoma to elect one student each year for consideration. Annual scholarships are worth $1000 to each recipient.
Individuals working in child care jobs are eligible for Scholars for Excellence in Child Care funds. The career-specific financial aid increases access to higher education and childcare credentials assessments for working child care providers in Oklahoma. Stipends are issued; allowing students to gain educational certifications without income interruptions. Child Development and Early Childhood Development programs are supported at technical and community colleges within the state. Credentials earned with help from Oklahoma Child Care Services Scholarships inlude Child Development Associate and Certified Childcare Professional.