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December 4, 2003 :: Report Shows College Tuition and Mandatory Fee Rates Meet Legislative Requirements

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Tuition and mandatory fees at Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities are within legislative limits as stipulated in House Bill 1748, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education were told today.

The information was contained in the “2003-04 Tuition Impact Analysis Report,” a detailed report compiled by State Regents’ staff. The report will be presented to Gov. Brad Henry and state lawmakers early next year.

As part of HB 1748, which granted colleges and universities tuition- and fee-setting authority within limits, legislators required that the State Regents annually provide them with a detailed report on how the state system is complying with certain provisions set forth in the law.

According to the report, each institution’s tuition and fee requests were below the posted peer limits for the tier as specified in the bill. In addition, the report showed the tuition and fee increases had no significant impact on the institutions’ enrollment patterns, including groups defined by socioeconomic statistics, or on students’ ability to pay.

“Enrollment continues to grow, and that’s good news for Oklahoma,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “Even with the higher tuition and fee rates this fall, Oklahoma still has some of the lowest tuition rates in the nation. The majority of students have been able to absorb these increases without significantly altering or affecting their educational objectives.”

Risser pointed out that a big reason the tuition and fee increases have not materially affected students’ ability to pay for their college education is that tuition waiver scholarships increased by 18.1 percent or $11 million this year. HB 1748 required State Regents to make a reasonable effort to increase need-based financial aid across the state system proportionate to any increase in tuition.

“We are pleased that the institutions are continuing to help students find other sources of financial aid. The State Regents and the institutions are committed to assisting students in whatever way possible to make sure that they are not denied access to a college education because of increased costs,” Risser said.

The report also revealed that institutions presented the information explaining the potential tuition and fee increases to the students in a variety of ways and on a continual basis. Most of the students, according to the report, were appreciative of the dialogue between them and higher education officials. They also understood the reasons for the increases and accepted them as necessary so that the quality of instruction would remain uncompromised.

Resident tuition increased an average of 18.2 percent this fall in Oklahoma. Thirty-seven other states also report increases in resident tuition, ranging from 2 percent in Montana to 39 percent in Arizona.