Approval of $1.6 million in increased funds for the Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant means more financial aid is available for Oklahomans attending the state's private colleges.
On Friday, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education announced approval of the $1.6 million in new OTEG funds. The grant money provides $2,000 per year for Oklahoma students from families with income of $50,000 or less who attend private colleges in the state.
"The grant program helps students who want a quality Christian education to achieve that goal," said Jonna Raney, director of student financial services at Oklahoma Baptist University. "The additional $2,000 in aid can be the difference for students to attend private colleges in Oklahoma rather than leaving their home state."
The regents' action followed legislative work which allocated $2.1 million in the state's budget to help fund the OTEG program. In their dispersal of the overall education allocation, regents redirected $500,000, while still increasing the OTEG allotment.
"We appreciate the Oklahoma State Legislature and Governor Henry for supporting OTEG funding, helping deserving Oklahoma resident students who choose to attend private universities in state," said OBU President Mark Brister.
OBU and St. Gregory's University officials have worked with local legislators to seek full funding of the OTEG program. OTEG legislation was initially sponsored by Gov. Henry when he was a member of the state senate. Brister noted that Sen. Charlie Laster, Rep. Kris Steele and Rep. Shane Jett have offered consistent support for the OTEG program.
"We appreciate the regents' approval of an additional $1.6 million in OTEG funding," said Brister. "It is a win-win for Oklahomans."
New funding helps incoming students, while OTEG funds approved in previous years help to provide ongoing aid for current eligible students at Oklahoma private colleges.
Raney said her staff moved quickly to apply the additional OTEG funds for OBU students.
"The grant aid will be a difference-maker for some students considering a private college education," said Raney. "We are working to make sure we utilize our full allotment of OTEG funds."
In addition to the state assistance, Raney said OBU also still has Riddle Scholarship funds available for qualifying area students. The Riddle Scholarship, which provides up to $5,000 annually, is for graduates of high schools in Pottawatomie, Lincoln, and Seminole counties with a 3.0 or better high school grade point average who have a demonstrated level of financial need. The scholarship also is available for area students seeking to transfer to OBU.
"It is not too late to apply to OBU and to get financial aid for the fall semester," said Raney. "Every available scholarship is real money, which can be stacked together to help students pay for college."