| TAHLEQUAH, OK Principal Chief Bill John Baker said on
Aug. 10 that he and Tribal Councilors have reached a solution to fund
scholarships for Cherokee Promise scholars.
"I'm pleased to announce that every freshman who would have
qualified for the Cherokee Promise Scholarship will get the exact
same amount of money that he or she was expecting for school for
both the fall and spring semesters," Baker said. "There was some
initial confusion when students were first notified, but after a
few days of sorting through it all, we have demonstrated what we
are best at finding a way to say 'yes' instead of saying
'no.' I'm proud that my administration's commitment to education
is unmatched, sending over 5,000 students to college."
Last week, Education Services officials sent letters to applicants,
notifying them that the Cherokee Promise Scholarship would not be
accepting new students.
After the letters went out, Baker and members of his administration
held talks with legislators, including Tribal Council Speaker Joe
Byrd and Executive and Finance Committee Chairwoman Janees Taylor.
It was determined there is money to fund qualifying students who
met the Promise Scholarship requirements up to the full $4,600 per
semester for their entire freshman year. The scholarship amount
is also determined on whether a student lives independently on or
The proposal will go before the Tribal Council on Aug. 15 as
part of a modification to the tribe's fiscal year 2017 budget. Approval
"Last week, I and a number of my colleagues on the council expressed
concern to the administration about the difficult position these
students would be in," Taylor said. "In this type of situation,
those of us in leadership positions have to roll up our sleeves
and find solutions. This was no time for leaders to stand on the
sidelines and simply criticize. Fortunately, our hard work led to
a solution for these students."
The Cherokee Promise Scholarship began in 2010. The program
is being discontinued, except for those sophomores, juniors and
seniors enrolled in the program.
Baker said he hopes this funding development will help put students
and parents at ease ahead of the new school year so the focus can
rightfully be on their higher education endeavors.
"The letter mailed to students last week certainly could have
been clearer, and for that we apologize to the affected families,"
Baker said. "We are committed to avoiding this kind of uncertainty
in the future, but more importantly, we have worked hard to resolve
the situation and fully fund these qualifying students."
None of the tribe's other higher education programs are impacted
by these actions, including the popular undergraduate scholarship.
In the past six years, the tribe's student scholarship count
has grown from 2,600 students in 2012 to more than 5,000 students
Letters with additional information are being mailed to applicants.
Students or parents with questions should call College Resources
at 918-453-5000, ext. 5465