OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Mary Fallin said Monday she will unveil a plan to boost the number of college graduates in Oklahoma by better preparing high school graduates for college and targeting adults who may have started college but never finished.
Speaking to the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Fallin said she’s been working with higher education and commerce officials to develop a plan to better prepare students, help students stay in college and graduate on time and encourage adults to return to college to receive advanced degrees.
“We’ve got to do a better job of building a better, skilled, educated workforce in our state,” Fallin said.
She said an estimated 70,000 Oklahomans have accumulated more than 90 hours of college coursework but never completed their degrees.
“Can you imagine if I could turn out 70,000 more college graduates into our economy, what that would do for Oklahoma’s economy,” she said. “That would send a strong signal that we’re ready and open for business.”
Fallin said she plans to announce details of the program by the end of the month.
Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce Dave Lopez said the program will involve incentives for students who graduate college on time and for adults to return to college.
“Completion time is key, so there are some incentives being considered for rebating a student’s last semester of tuition if they complete their degree on time,” Lopez said.
Other incentives could be provided to businesses that encourage their workers to complete their degrees or obtain certification through vocational-technology schools, Lopez said.
Lopez said Oklahoma policymakers will work with Complete College America, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving college completion rates.
Although college enrollment has increased nearly 35 percent since 1970, completion rates have remained relatively flat, according to the group.
For every 100 ninth-grade students in Oklahoma, only 6 percent graduate with a bachelor’s degree in four years, and the state’s percentage of young adults with a college degree (30 percent) trails the national average (38 percent), Complete College America reports.