Sen. Jason Smalley
Senate sends Oklahoma’s Promise bill to governor
The Senate gave unanimous final approval Tuesday
to legislation modifying Oklahoma’s Promise, the state-sponsored
tuition program. Sen.
Jason Smalley is the author of Senate Bill 529, which he said
makes necessary changes to the program to protect the integrity
and stability of the program.
“This bill tackles a number of areas concerning Oklahoma’s
Promise to ensure that those students who truly need financial
assistance can get it while also being inclusive of those degrees
that take longer than the average program,” said Smalley,
Oklahoma’s Promise allows eighth-, ninth- or 10th-grade
students from families with an income of $50,000 or less to earn
a college tuition scholarship. SB 529 changes the definition of
income at the time of application in the 8th-10th grade from “taxable
and nontaxable” income to “federal adjusted gross
income” and increases the family income limit from $50,000
The bill will stop payment for remedial courses beginning in 2018-2019
at an estimated annual savings of approximately $1.5 million.
SB 529 changes how often family incomes are checked. Currently,
the statutes require that the second income check at $100,000
for Oklahoma’s Promise students be conducted only one time
when the student starts college. Under this bill, the $100,000
check will be conducted every year the student is in college,
beginning with the 2018-19 academic year for an annual estimated
savings of about $1.5 million.
The measure also requires the State Regents to establish a maximum
limit on the number of college credit hours covered by the scholarship.
Currently, students are eligible to receive the scholarship for
up to five years or the completion of a baccalaureate degree,
whichever comes first. This will limit the number of credit hours
paid for during the five year period.
Most undergraduate degrees require 120-124 semester credit hours
but about 20 percent of degrees require more than 124 hours, including
a number of engineering degrees and some teacher education degrees
in specialty areas such as science and music. Undergraduate architecture
degrees require up to 150 credit hours. Through the Administrative
Procedures Act, the State Regents will establish a general maximum
limit on credit hours while allowing exceptions to that limit
for degrees requiring credit hours in excess of the limit. The
limit is expected to be applicable to first-time entering freshmen
college students in fall 2018. Once fully implemented, the change
is expected to save about one to two percent of total program
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