The Fifth Osage Nation Congress unanimously approved the funding levels for higher education scholarships to be awarded during the 2016-2017 academic year during the July special session.
The Congress passed bill ONCA 16-74 (sponsored by Congresswoman Shannon Edwards) on July 19 and Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear signed the bill so the Nation’s third-party scholarship administrator Scholarship America could process the incoming scholarship applications with the scholarship levels approved by the Congress. The Nation’s Education Department also incorporated the scholarship funding levels into the updated 2016-2017 Scholarship Student Handbook.
According to the 2016-2017 scholarship levels, students attending associate institutions may receive up to $150 per credit hour for up to 36 enrolled credits during the school year. Undergraduate students enrolled at baccalaureate universities may receive up to $290 per credit hour.
Those students who attend research universities and who are professional/ graduate students will receive increases in the per credit hour maximum funding available. Students attending research universities may receive up to $330 per credit hour, which is a $20 increase from last year’s funding level. Professional/ graduate students may receive up to $360 per credit hour, which is a $30 increase from last year’s level.
Edwards said the updated scholarship levels are the result of research and Congressional Education Committee discussion work, which included considering increases in college tuition nationwide. Edwards said the Congress also received feedback from Osage college students from Oklahoma and other states including California who mentioned the hardships of increased tuition rates.
“What we are doing is attempting to keep those costs down for our students so they do not graduate with debt they will be paying off the rest of their lives,” Edwards said.
According to the Associated Press, The Oklahoma State Regents approved increases in mandatory tuition and fees for the state’s public colleges and universities in June. The panel voted unanimously to increase the costs for undergraduate students by an average of 8.4 percent statewide. The tuition and fee increases for undergraduate students ranged from 3.7 percent at Langston University to about 13 percent at Rose State College, the AP reported. The increases come after the Oklahoma Legislature slashed funding for the state colleges and universities due to a state budget shortfall.
Congressman Ron Shaw voted “yes,” for the scholarship levels but expressed concern of whether the Nation could keep increasing the scholarship levels with the Nation’s annual gaming distribution for government services remaining flat. Shaw said he’s proud of the scholarship program and it’s a “substantial help” but added, “I think the Congress in subsequent years is going to need to decide whether or not we can keep pace with the increase in tuition.”
The Fifth ON Congress will next meet for its first 24-day Tzi-Zho Session starting Sept. 6. At that time the Congress will consider the 2017 fiscal year budgets for government programs, services and benefits, including replenishing the higher education scholarship fund.
Original Publish Date: 2016-08-18 00:00:00