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Time is running out for Oklahoma teens to get a free college education

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Time is running out for Oklahoma tenth-graders to enroll in a program to get free college tuition.

It’s the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program, or OHLAP. And organizers say it takes just five minutes to get five year's of college education. They've been getting Oklahoma teens from the high school classroom to the college lecture hall for almost 10 years. This year faced with budget crunches and cutbacks -- the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program managed to survive unscathed.

Cheryl Elias with the Oklahoma State Regents: "The legislators seem to believe totally in this program because it’s helping us to achieve what we need to achieve in Oklahoma.”

To keep Oklahoma teens achieving, lawmakers approved an extra $2.8 million to provide OHLAP participants with free education. But if some students don't act now, they'll miss out. "Particularly your tenth graders only have to the first of July of this year in order to apply. Once they've hit that first of July deadline they're considered juniors."

Eighth, Ninth and Tenth graders with a family income of less than $50,000 are eligible to apply. The program requires students to complete 17 core courses with at least a 2.5 grade point average and a clean record. But the program doesn't just provide students with a way to afford college; organizers say it also changes their behavior in high school. "One kid I heard about was trying to decide whether to get involved in a fight at school where he knew he would get suspended from school and OHLAP was kind of there in the back of his mind to help motivate him there."

They're not just motivated to behave but also to excel. The Oklahoma State Regents report OHLAP students outscore the average student on the ACT, have higher high school graduation rates and higher rates of college freshman returning for a second year.

For information on the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program, you can visit www.okhighered.org
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