Three Oklahoma City high schools and one Tulsa high school were recognized as academic state champions Thursday by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
Tulsa Union was the Class 6A champ for the second year in a row for graduating the most Oklahoma's Promise participants. Santa Fe South in Oklahoma City was the Class 4A champ for the fifth consecutive year.
The 2012-13 year-end report for the scholarship program highlighted the 2013 Oklahoma's Promise State Champion in each class. The regents accepted the report during their meeting.
Oklahoma City schools also took the title in 5A (Southeast) and 2A (Dove Science Academy).
U.S. Grant came in third in 6A after Tulsa Union and Broken Arrow, two schools with three times the student population, said Bryce Fair, vice chancellor for state grants and scholarships.
Fair choked back tears as he told the story of a U.S. Grant High School senior who said he wants to succeed because his father has worked hard to give him a better life.
The program pays the college tuition at a state public institution for students who meet academic and family income requirements.
For the 2012-13 school year, 19,619 students received an average of $3,095 in tuition. Tuition rates vary, depending whether the student attends a two-year college, a regional university or a research university.
“This is the greatest program in the history of Oklahoma,” Regent John Massey, of Durant, said.
The program has grown to be successful in urban and rural areas, charter schools, specialty schools and public schools that serve their surrounding neighborhoods, Fair said.
He said the schools have one thing in common — caring adults who are engaged in the students' lives.
The other champion high schools recognized were Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, operated by the Cherokee Nation for American Indian students, 3A; Soper High School in Choctaw County, A; and Cement High School in Caddo County, B.
Fair noted 10 of the 11 Cement students enrolled in Oklahoma's Promise completed the program, and 15 of 17 Soper students.
Statewide, about 65 percent of last year's graduates who enrolled completed the requirements.
Fair said 80 percent of those who qualify go to college and 80 percent of those return their sophomore year. About 3,000 scholarship recipients graduate from college each year, he said.
The scholarship is for families with incomes of $50,000 or less at the time the student applies (eighth, ninth or 10th grade) and not more than $100,000 at the time the student begins college.
The $50,000 family income limit hasn't been adjusted since 2000. Proposed legislation would raise the limit to $68,000, which is the equivalent in 2013's economy based on the national Consumer Price Index, Fair said.
The report shows $50,000 in 2013 was the equivalent of $37,000 in 2000.