BY LAUREN CARTER
The Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program, more commonly known as OHLAP, is giving thousands of deserving young adults a chance to attend state colleges and universities for free.
For some students, an opportunity to go to college wasn't a reality until OHLAP. Also known as "Oklahoma's Promise," OHLAP is a taxpayer funded program.
Whitney Clarkson, a student at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma grew up in Grady County and has been part of the OHLAP program for several years now. Clarkson graduated from Alex High School and is thankful her mother found out about the program in time for the tenth grade deadline.
"I didn't even know I was signed up for OHLAP until I starting looking for colleges," Clarkson explained. "My mom had already filled out all the necessary paperwork when I was in eighth grade."
OHLAP provides tuition wavers for Oklahoma students who's families income is $50,000 or less. The OHLAP program was established around 20 years ago and the number of students participating has grown tremendously.
OHLAP requires students to enroll by tenth grade. Unfortunately a lot of students who are late to find out information on the free program, miss out on this financial opportunity.
"I was lucky my mom researched OHLAP," Clarkson said. "I just had to make sure I stayed out of trouble and I kept my grades up and I stayed in school."
In addition to staying away from criminal acts and attending school regularly, the OHLAP program requires students to achieve at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA in grades 9-12.
According to Clarkson, the OHLAP program can be applied to any public college or university in Oklahoma. It can cover some tuition expense at a private school in Oklahoma.
According to the OSRHE's, the program's primary objectives are to enhance capacity to successfully enroll, retain and graduate students, as well as strengthen financial support for Oklahoma college students. Approximately 184,500 student accounts have been created, and about 31,700 students have applied online for Oklahoma's Promise.
"The OHLAP scholarship made college a reality for me," Clarkson said.
To find out more information on the OHLAP program go to www.okhighered.org/okpromise.