Senate Bill 639 turns Oklahoma’s Promise into Oklahoma’s punishment.
Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program allows students from families with an income under $55,000 per year to attend college debt free. The program was created in 1992 with the goal to produce qualified participants for Oklahoma’s workforce.
There is surprisingly little red tape involved in this program. Students must have a 2.5 high school GPA and must maintain that 2.5 GPA through college.
Oklahoma's Promise is how I attended Oklahoma State University and graduated free of debt.
The program, however, has only a 53% graduation rate.
Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, wants to do something about the other 47% of participants who receive state tax dollars but end up with nothing to show for the investment.
SB 639 would require those participants who do not complete their degree to pay back the tuition costs incurred, a clawback.
This smacks of fear tactics. To give students an ultimatum of either graduate or be burdened with debt is predatory.
It has already been established, by their qualification to the program, that these students cannot afford college.
I suggest a much simpler and proactive solution — raise the required high school GPA to 3.0 for Oklahoma's Promise. This ensures a more academically qualified student enters the program.
There are many routes through college, but throwing a C-student into a four-year college is a poor investment.
The program needs a higher standard of admission, not a punitive threat of debt.
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