Budget increased for higher education scholarships
8/23/2013 8:59:18 AM
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Tribal Councilors on Aug. 12 approved a budget modification that added slightly more than $1 million to the Cherokee Nation’s fiscal year 2013 budget for higher education scholarships.

Education Services senior advisor Dr. Neil Morton said the additional $1,034,000 would fund an extra 500 scholarships, mostly for college freshmen who are given scholarships last because upperclassmen are funded first.

“I am very excited to be able to award scholarships to students that submitted a complete application,” Mandy Scott, CN College Resource Center director, said. “The scholarship advisors worked hard to make sure all students turned in all required documents. It is a good feeling knowing that the Cherokee Nation cares about helping students continue their education.”

Tribal Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr. said he liked the fact that so many students qualify for the scholarships. 

“I appreciate the problem that you’re having because you got more students, you need more money. That’s a good problem to have,” he said.

When Hoskin asked why Education Services wasn’t funding the freshman first, Morton said budget restrictions and procedures of funding upperclassmen before freshmen were the reasons. 

Morton said Education Services funded approximately 250 new students for the spring semester, which is 200 more than the department normally funds. 

The approved budget modification was expected to take effect immediately so that Education Services could fund those additional scholarships this academic year. All freshmen who have a completed application on file and are eligible would be funded, Morton said.  

“This year we wound up with needing to fund 850 new (CN scholarship) students,” he said. “Actually 835 are new and 15 are continuing.”

The students who received scholarships during FY 2012 attended colleges or universities in 31 states and Washington, D.C. And 80 percent of those students attended 35 colleges or universities in Oklahoma, Morton said. 

The number of freshmen scholarship recipients for FY 2012 represents about 22 percent of the number of high school seniors who are Cherokee and residing in the CN jurisdictional area. Several students go into vocational, technical education before entering college.

There are currently 190 graduate students who receive scholarships.    
  
The five universities that have the largest number of students receiving CN scholarships are Northeastern State University with 631 students, Oklahoma State University with 328 students, Rogers State University with 192 students, University of Oklahoma with 189 students and the University of Arkansas with 135 students. 

Tribal Councilor Cara Cowan Watts asked if Education Services would be keeping track of how many freshmen drop out of college or continue on with their education. 

“With our new computer system, we can finally get an accurate dropout rate and also what they do after they graduate,” Morton said. 
 
During the 2010-11 academic school year, the CN lost more than $500,000 in scholarship money after losing 318 CN scholarship recipients. 

Morton said although Education Services is trying to get its hands on the number of dropout students, the dropout rate has declined. Now, when students apply for scholarships, they are assigned a CRC counselor who helps monitor the students. 

“There was a time we were losing students, the greatest number of students at the end of the first year,” Morton said. “If we keep them during the first semester, chances are we’re going to keep the majority of them, vast majority of them.”  

For more information, call 918-453-5000 or toll free at 1-800-256-0671 or email collegeresources@cherokee.org. To view and apply for scholarships or create a profile, visit https://cherokeenation.academicworks.com/. 

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org

918-453-5000, ext. 6139

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