The Reach Higher: DirectComplete program is focused on 100 critical occupations, as listed by the Oklahoma Works Critical Occupations list. Typically, financial aid support, supportive services and navigator assistance will be provided to nontraditional students pursuing degrees that are associated to a critical occupation at a Reach Higher: DirectComplete participating college or university. However, when a partnership between an employer/agency and a participating institution exists, those partners may enter into scholarship agreements about specific degree programs that are important to their employees, clients, or citizens.
If a college or university is working with a specific employer or tribe needing a degree that their institution offers but that is not on the critical occupations list (i.e. Native American Studies or Bachelor of Science in Nursing), and the employer or tribe is willing to provide scholarships or grants for their employees or citizens to complete that program of study, then that degree program may also qualify.
The employer, agency, or tribe would need to identify degree programs that fit their workforce needs at their local colleges or universities and discuss with the institutions they are partnering with the type and amount of financial assistance they will offer to their clients, employees, or potential students pursing those degrees. The institutions do not need to make those degree programs part of their regular Reach Higher: DirectComplete offering for every student; they may decide to only include that workforce essential degree program for employees, clients, or citizens of that organization.
Colleges and universities will determine, which degree programs qualify for Reach Higher: DirectComplete financial aid or scholarship offerings at their institution. But those colleges or universities may enter into specific agreements with an employer, agency, or tribe to add certain degrees for their employees, clients, or citizens that are eligible for Reach Higher: DirectComplete scholarships or financial aid. For instance, a college or university may have a partnership with a local business that is willing to sponsor Reach Higher: DirectComplete scholarships for three marketing students for all expenses in their last year of their Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing program. Although marketing may not be on the critical occupations list, it may be a regular degree program for that university, and they could decide r to make marketing a permanent offering that would be eligible for Reach Higher: DirectComplete financial aid or scholarships or a special offer for only that employer.
It is important that Reach Higher: DirectComplete participating institutions reach out to their business partners and other community partners to determine which degree programs offered at their institution would most impact their local community and meet workforce needs within their partner’s companies.
Colleges and universities may decide to focus on only one, or a couple, degree programs until they are able to meet with their community’s partners to determine workforce needs and scholarship or financial aid opportunities available in their communities.