Possible changes to Oklahoma's Promise scholarship cause concern among higher ed officials
Bryce Fair, vice chancellor for state grants and scholarships, said the changes are too new for officials to know what their impact will be. But the only impact they could have is to reduce the number of students eligible for the program, he said.
Fair said he'd prefer to see legislators wait a few years to see what impact the previous round of changes will have before they begin making more changes.
Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, said the changes are necessary to make sure the program helps the students who need it most. Osborn, the bill's author, said Monday the changes were meant to stabilize the program and keep costs under control.
“We live in a balanced budget state, and there's only so many dollars,” she said. “At some point, we can't afford it.”
But higher education officials don't expect the cost to increase dramatically over the next few years. Officials expect the program's cost to increase from $61.3 million during the current fiscal year to $62.7 million next year — a change of about 2 percent.
Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, said she's concerned about the impact the bill will have. Virgin was one of 37 representatives who voted against the measure.
While the bill was being discussed on the House floor Monday, Virgin heard via social media from a number of her constituents, who were concerned the measure would keep some Oklahoma high school students from going on to college.
The program is an important way of making sure students can leave college and enter the workforce without incurring a mountain of student debt, Virgin said.
“It's a program I think has worked very well,” she said.