Citing a renewed focus on providing access to quality higher education, St. Gregory’s University President D. Gregory Main announced during his inauguration Friday a special program aimed at helping Oklahoma’s longterm unemployed. The St. Gregory’s University Learn to Earn program will offer state residents a unique opportunity to earn a college degree without incurring any outof- pocket costs for tuition or fees. The university will begin taking applications immediately.


Citing a renewed focus on providing access to quality higher education, St. Gregory’s University President D. Gregory Main announced during his inauguration Friday a special program aimed at helping Oklahoma’s longterm unemployed. The St. Gregory’s University Learn to Earn program will offer state residents a unique opportunity to earn a college degree without incurring any outof- pocket costs for tuition or fees. The university will begin taking applications immediately.

“It is well understood in an increasingly competitive world that Oklahoma’s workforce educational attainment must be improved,” Main said. “Governor Fallin has called for a significant initiative to increase the number of Oklahomans with college degrees, and St. Gregory’s University supports this initiative in a bold and exciting way.”

Qualified applicants must be Oklahoma residents 25 years and older who have been unemployed for at least 18 months and have not already earned a bachelor’s degree. Applicants must meet entrance qualifications for the SGU College for Working Adults, which offers classes in Shawnee and Tulsa. The university will cover each student’s remaining balance on tuition and fees after all federal and state aid is applied. Loans will be available to cover book expenses. Main said the program is a win-win situation because the financial liability is minimal on both the university and the student.

“At any given time, we have limited space available in our classes,” Main said. “We may not be able to accept everyone who applies, but we hope to fill that space with people who really need help getting back out in the workforce. This is part of our mission at St. Gregory’s. It’s an expression of our Catholic identity.”

SGU Vice President for Enrollment Management Bill Kuehl said the path from a layoff to a new career often runs through the classroom.

“Many unemployed workers believe their only chance of being rehired is to go back to school,” he said. “These people are being forced to make tough decisions about their futures.”

Recent Bureau of Labor statistics indicate a sharp contrast between those with a degree and those without. Nearly 10 percent of Americans with a high school education are unemployed compared to only 4.4 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree. Degreed workers can also expect to make at least $1 million more in their lifetime than non-degreed workers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.