Oct 30, 2020
Goodwell, Okla. — Thanks to a generous donor that wishes to remain anonymous, a recent gift of $500,000 that will be matched dollar for dollar by the Panhandle State Foundation is creating an endowed scholarship for students wishing to pursue a degree in education at Oklahoma Panhandle State University.
A community driven partnership between Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Oklahoma Panhandle public school districts, and community and private donors, the scholarship pursues two complementary objectives designed to meet the dual community needs of connecting residents with meaningful education that translates to sustainable wages and meeting the local education workforce demand.
Panhandle State President Dr. Tim Faltyn commented, “This is a case where citizens of the Panhandle are addressing a need in our region that will support the future of our success for decades.”
Anticipated to be a highly competitive scholarship, the concept is relatively simple and would essentially mean that the recipient could earn a degree for free with the scholarship covering any additional tuition expense beyond what is covered by financial aid. The scholarship is a “gap funding” scholarship meaning for qualified students, it pays the expected out-of-pocket costs for tuition and fees a student would face after federal and state aid, and all other scholarship the student receives are applied. Panhandle State also funds up to $2,000 per year in tuition waivers for each eligible student. The average unmet “gap” for Panhandle State students is $16,800 over four years. The only academic cost to students will be their book rental fees.
Qualifying students will commit to attend Panhandle State for four years and in return for an amazing value, the recipient would agree to teach in one of the 16 public school districts in the Oklahoma Panhandle for a minimum of two years following graduation from Panhandle State.
The university is anticipating more applicants than the endowment received will support. Applications are expected to be available after the first of the new year and recipients will be named on July 1, 2019. Preference will be given to students who have an ACT score of 19 or above, a qualifying OGET score, and who plan to teach in a public school in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
For students like Gabby Ramos, a freshman at Panhandle State from Guymon, Okla., who is working and running Cross Country for the Aggies all while attending school full time, the scholarship could be life changing.
Ramos commented, “For them to offer to pay my whole education would be wonderful.”
“This is a program that transforms our region,” Faltyn said. “It not only changes the student’s life, but it changes the whole trajectory of their family’s future.”
The scholarship program could be an answer to the current teacher shortages that Goodwell School Superintendent Jerry Birdsong is so familiar with handling. “This is going to be a tremendous opportunity for the public schools in the Oklahoma Panhandle.”
The Panhandle Promise Program is poised to transform the region by putting the best and the brightest in the classroom to teach the kids that are the next generation of success for the Panhandle.
Guymon School Board President Mike Ray is all too familiar with the same issues Birdsong faces. “By working with Panhandle State, it enables us to have kids who grew up in the Panhandle, understand the Panhandle, understand the weather and what it is like, and love it to stay here and to give them a job.”
Special thanks goes to the donor and the Panhandle State Foundation who enable this vision to take place and is assisting Panhandle State in continuing to fulfill the promise of their potential by helping people reach their dreams.
Faltyn commented, “It seems like thanks isn’t enough. It is hard not to be excited when you think about not just what has happened, but the great things that are going to happen with these resources. That is why I am thankful.”
For more information and a complete list of criteria, visit panhandlepromise.opsu.edu.
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