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June 30, 2003 :: Tuition and Fees Still Among Lowest in the Region

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Students attending Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities will be paying more for their college education beginning next year.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education today approved tuition and mandatory fee increases for Oklahoma’s 25 four-year and two-year colleges. Resident tuition and fees will increase an average of $430 for a full-time undergraduate student and $1,087 for nonresidents. The increases go into effect at the start of fall classes and are based on a full load of 30 credit hours.

“Even with the increases in tuition and fees next year, Oklahomans will still be paying less for their college education than their peers in other states, a lot less in many instances,” said Chancellor Paul G. Risser, noting that tuition and fees at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University will still be near the bottom of the Big 12.

“It’s unfortunate that our public colleges and universities have had to request these double-digit increases in their tuition and fee rates, but it is both understandable and necessary if students are to graduate on time and if the quality of education they provide to our students is to remain intact,” Risser said.

Appropriations for the state system have been reduced by more than $83.3 million since last year, from $851.2 million at the beginning of FY 2003 to $767.9 for FY2004. Officials expect the tuition and fee increases will generate approximately $71 million for the state system, recouping a portion of what was lost in state appropriations. However, the trend of higher enrollments should continue in 2003-2004, adding to the cost of educating students. Depending on state revenues and enrollment figures, some institutions may still be forced to make reductions in some areas. In addition, rates for property and health insurance, utilities and teachers retirement are going up.

At the state’s comprehensive universities – OU and OSU – resident tuition and fees for full-time undergraduate students will go up an average of $805. Nonresidents will pay an average of $2,119 more. Undergraduate residents attending the state’s regional universities will pay an average of $429 more for their education, while nonresidents will pay an average of $1,149.

Resident students enrolled at the state’s two-year colleges will pay an average of $270 more in tuition and fees, and nonresidents an average of $552 more a year.

Graduate students will also be expected to contribute more to their college education. Residents taking 24 credit hours will pay an average of $413 more and nonresidents will pay an average of $1,177 more a year. Residents enrolled in professional programs, such as law and medicine, will pay an average of $1,223 more a year while nonresidents will pay an average of $1,805 more.

The new rates approved by the State Regents mean that students will be paying one-third of the total cost of their college education, a target that the State Regents have been trying to hit for years. Before the increases, Oklahoma students were paying approximately 27.5 percent of the total cost. With the increases, they should be paying approximately 33 percent.

Oklahoma lawmakers granted the State Regents authority to approve resident tuition and fee increases by no more than 7 percent and nonresident by 9 percent in 2001, but it wasn’t until this last legislative session under HB 1748 that they removed those caps. Under the new law, OU and OSU are prohibited from raising tuition and fees no higher than the average of the Big 12 schools. The regional universities and the two-year colleges are allowed to increase tuition and fees no more than the average of their peers in other states. The law also requires institutions to increase the amount of financial aid offered to students from low- and middle-income families.

“Being able to provide the absolute best education we can to our students and equipping them with the skills they need to make a positive and immediate contribution to our state’s workforce is of utmost importance,” State Regents Chairman Carl Renfro said. “While these tuition and fee increases will go a long way in helping provide those things, we are hopeful that the state revenue picture will improve in the near future so that we can keep tuition and fee increases to a minimum.”