Are you an Oklahoma resident who plans to further your education in the Sooner State? If so, you’re in luck. Oklahoma is home to numerous scholarship opportunities, a few state-based grants, and some unique lending opportunities.
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As college costs soar, students across the nation are accumulating record-breaking debt — but for Oklahoma residents, the numbers are slightly less than the national average of $30,000. Instead, borrowers in Oklahoma have an average student loan debt of $25,856. The debt load for graduates of public colleges and universities in Oklahoma is even lower, at $23,903.
If you’re an OK resident and want to continue to keep your debt, as well as your state’s debt, below the national average, you need to identify the best financial aid options, like grants, scholarships, and loans, many of which can be found without crossing state borders.
On this page:
- Getting Financial Aid for College
- State-Based Student Loans in Oklahoma
- Oklahoma College Scholarships
- Oklahoma Grants for College
Getting Financial Aid for College
You already know you need at least some financial aid to get through your college years, but how do you find it? These steps can help put you on the right track:
- Submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form will be used to determine your eligibility for federal assistance like loans and grants. It’s also used to determine eligibility for a number of need-based grants and scholarships.
- Calculate the cost of college. Add together all your expected costs, including tuition, fees, books, and room and board. This number, subtracted from the amount you intend to pay out-of-pocket, will represent the total amount of financial aid you’ll need to secure.
- Gather grant and scholarship information. Even though you may end up taking out federal and/or private student loans, your first goal should be to exhaust all grant and scholarship options. As such, begin your search early and keep track of all application requirements and deadlines.
State-Based Student Loans in Oklahoma
For most students, loans are a necessary part of the college experience. There are numerous institutions and companies that originate student loans, including federal and state governing bodies; however, Oklahoma does not have a state-based loan program.
>> Read More: Find Private Student Loans
If you’re an Oklahoma resident in search of a student loan, you may want to consider federal loans first; however, if you still need to fill the gap between tuition costs and available financial aid, you may want to consider one of these lenders:
Oklahoma’s Credit Union
Through a partnership with Student Choice, Oklahoma’s Credit Union offers student loans of up to $25,000, with variable interest rates between 7.5% and 9.5%. Repayment terms are flexible, with five-, 10-, and 15-year terms available; borrowers pay no origination fees or prepayment penalties.
To be eligible for the Student Choice Private Lending Solution at OKCU, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an accredited school. In addition, you must be a credit union member (or become one at the time of application) and pass a credit check. If you cannot meet the credit requirements on your own, you can add a qualified cosigner to your application.
OKCU also provides 24-hour customer support, including a chat feature to help you through the application process.
Oklahoma Central Credit Union
Also in partnership with Student Choice, Oklahoma Central Credit Union provides undergraduate lines of credit of up to $75,000 to qualified borrowers. Interest rates vary between 9% and 10%; loans with principal balances under $40,000 are repaid over 20 years, while loans in excess of $40,000 are repaid over 25 years. Like OKCU, OCCU charges no origination fees or prepayment penalties.
To be eligible for an educational line of credit through OCCU, you must be a member of the credit union or become one at the time of application. In addition, you must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-earning program. Finally, you must be able to pass a credit check; however, those who cannot do so have the option to add a cosigner to their application.
Overall, OCCU offers an easy application process and immediate loan decisions. In addition, some students may find that a line of credit is a unique and easy-to-manage lending solution that eliminates the need for ongoing application requirements.
Oklahoma College Scholarships
A scholarship is a great way to decrease the number of student loans or the amount of out-of-pocket expenses required to attend college. Scholarships can be awarded by numerous institutions, organizations, and businesses, and finding them will require diligent research. There are numerous online databases designed to help you, but you can also check with your state, high school guidance office, and the office of financial aid at the school in which you intend to enroll.
Fortunately, the state of Oklahoma offers multiple scholarships, many of which are sponsored by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. The following scholarships are some of the most popular ones offered to OK residents; however, a full list can be found on OKCollegeStart.org.
Oklahoma Promise Scholarship
- Scholarship amount: Varies based on tuition and institution type (private or public)
- Eligibility requirements: You must be an OK resident enrolled at an approved college or university, where you are expected to meet the school’s satisfactory academic progress requirements. In addition, you must complete the FAFSA and have an adjusted gross income of less than $100,000.
- Deadline to apply: July 1
Academic Scholars Program
- Scholarship amount: $3,500 to $5,500
- Eligibility requirements: You must be enrolled in a public or private Oklahoma college. Further, you can qualify if you are a National Merit Scholar, National Merit Finalist, or U.S. Presidential Scholar. You can also have a total ACT score of 135 or an SAT score of 1560; a public college or university can also nominate you.
- Deadline to apply: April 30
Regional University Baccalaureate Scholarship
- Scholarship amount: $3,000
- Eligibility requirements: Only applicants who attend an approved OK public university will be eligible for this scholarship. Further, you must be an Oklahoma resident and have an ACT composite score of at least 30, or be a National Merit Semifinalist or Commended Student.
- Deadline to apply: Varies by school
George and Donna Nigh Public Service Scholarship
- Scholarship amount: $1,000
- Eligibility requirements: You must be an Oklahoma resident as defined by the State Regents, enrolled full-time at a private or public university in the state and planning to pursue a degree program that will result in a career in public service. Academic achievement is also used to determine eligibility; this includes a review of your GPA, class rank, scholastic achievement, and extracurricular activities.
- Deadline to apply: Varies (contact the Nigh Institute at 405-974-2626 for the most up-to-date information)
Future Teachers Scholarship
- Scholarship amount: Up to $1,500
- Eligibility requirements: You must be an OK resident who has been nominated by the college in which you are enrolled. Nominations require that you have one of the following: a GPA in the top 15% of your graduating high school class; an ACT or SAT score in the top 15% of all graduates in the select year; admitted to a professional education program at an accredited Oklahoma college or university; and an outstanding academic record as defined by the school. Additionally, you must agree to teach for three years at a school in an area that has been defined as having a teacher shortage.
- Deadline to apply: Varies (contact the Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education for more information)
Oklahoma Grants for College
Grants provide students with much-needed financial assistance without the repayment obligation. Although scholarships fulfill the same need, there are slight differences between the two.
In general, grants are awarded based on financial need. Scholarships, on the other hand, are typically based on merit, performance, or other factors like your background or academic goals, although financial need can play a role as well.
The state of Oklahoma has a tremendous amount of state-based scholarships, but there are only two state grants students can apply for: the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant and the Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant.
Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant
- Grant amount: Up to $1,300
- Eligibility requirements: Eligibility is based on your Expected Family Contribution as determined by your FAFSA. In addition, you must be enrolled in an approved OK school and meet basic admission and satisfactory academic progress requirements.
- Deadline to apply: Deadlines align with FAFSA dates, but students are urged to apply as soon as possible after October 1
Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant
- Grant amount: $2,000 per year ($1,000 per semester)
- Eligibility requirements: You must submit a FAFSA and be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student at a qualified Oklahoma school. In addition, you must be an Oklahoma resident as defined by the Oklahoma Regents, and your family income must not exceed $50,000.
- Deadline to apply: Deadlines align with FAFSA dates
If you’re an Oklahoma resident who plans on attending college in the state, there are plenty of scholarship and grant opportunities that can help you reduce the overall cost of higher education. To take advantage of these programs, be sure to complete the FAFSA and submit applications on time.
Author: Jennifer Lobb