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ACT Numbers Up, But Regents Worried Budget Situation Could Hamper Scholarships

ACT test book
Seth Perlman

Eighty-two percent of high school seniors took the ACT this past school year, with more than 1,700 scoring 30 or higher.

State Regents for Higher Education Director of Student Preparation Matt Higdon said that's due to better accessibility, eCapitol’s Tyler Talley reports:

He said an expected dip in the state's composite score was expected due to wider accessibility. Oklahoma's ACT Composite Score dropped from 20.7 to 20.4 after remaining steady for the past eight years. "There's not widening of the gap (or) no significant difference in the gap between our state and the nation so still good news when you consider the number of students participating," Higdon said.

But even with more students taking the standardized tests and enrolling in college, decreasing university reserve funds could lead to fewer scholarship opportunities.

During the meeting Thursday, Regent Mike Turpen said student debt would increase without opportunities for scholarships. Regent Jay Helm said it would push resident students to look for better scholarship opportunities in other states, and Chairman John Massey said the state's inadequate higher education funding is a disservice to students:

"We're opening the door for new people to make Oklahoma even greater. What we've got to have is a Legislature that will allocate the money for us to do our job," Massey said. . . . Associate Vice Chancellor for Scholarships and Grants Bryce Fair said the cut was done in favor of preserving as many scholarship opportunities possible for resident students while also recognizing the value of non-resident students. "A couple of Rhodes Scholars in the past decade or two came in through this program but we think it's vitally important to preserve scholarship opportunities for our resident students as possible," he said, adding the action also authorizes the same amount of Institutional Nominees for each institution. While supporting the action, Regent Andrew Lester lamented the need for it, fearing it would drive away out-of-state students from attending an Oklahoma university or college.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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