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December 9, 2004 :: Tuition and Mandatory Fees Rates Below Peer Limits

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Tuition and mandatory fees at Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities are below posted peer limits for each tier as specified by state law, according to a higher education report released today.

Information contained in the “2004-05 Tuition Impact Analysis Report,” a detailed report compiled by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, showed that resident undergraduate tuition nationally increased an average of $496 this academic year compared to $230 in Oklahoma.

“All across the country, colleges and universities are facing shrinking state appropriations and higher mandatory costs,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “As a result, they have been forced to raise tuition. And Oklahoma is no different.”

In addition, the report showed the tuition and fee increases had no significant impact on the institutions’ enrollment patterns or on students’ ability to pay.

“We’re still seeing record enrollments across the state system and despite the higher tuition rates, getting a college education at an Oklahoma public college or university is still a bargain,” Risser said.

Risser pointed out that a big reason the tuition and fee increases have not materially affected students’ ability to pay is that tuition waivers increased by 14.9 percent or $10.7 million over last year. State law requires the State Regents to make a reasonable effort to increase need-based financial aid across the state system proportionate to any increase in tuition.

“It’s important that our public institutions continue to look for ways to help their students afford a college education. More students mean more college graduates, something that Oklahoma must have in order to attract higher-paying jobs to the state,” Risser added.

The report also revealed that institutions communicated potential tuition and fee increases to the students in a variety of ways. Most of the students understood the reasons for the increases and accepted them as necessary to ensure the quality of instruction.

In 2003, legislators granted colleges and universities tuition- and fee-setting authority within prescribed limits, requiring the State Regents to annually provide them with a detailed report on how the state system is complying with certain provisions set forth in the law.

The State Regents will present their findings to Gov. Brad Henry and state lawmakers early next year.