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Oklahoma's public colleges and universities continue to be among the most affordable in the region and nation. Resident tuition and fees at our two research universities are lowest among the universities in the Big 12 athletic conference (except Baylor University, a private institution). Oklahoma's regional universities are ranked 11th and the community colleges are 13th among the nation's most affordable institutions (Source: Measuring Up 2004, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education).

In 2003, the state Legislature granted authority to higher education governing and coordinating boards to establish tuition and mandatory fee (fees charged to all students) rates subject to the approval of the State Regents. In granting this institutional responsibility, the Legislature mandated that tuition and mandatory fees at Oklahoma institutions must remain below the average of a designated group of peer (comparable) institutions. Peer groups of institutions have been established for the regional universities and community colleges (the Big 12 conference, without Baylor, is the peer group for the two research universities). The chart below shows that the tuition and mandatory fee rates at all of our institutions are well below the statutory limits.

Comparing Undergraduate Tuition and Mandatory Fee Increases With Peers
FY05 Oklahoma Average
FY05 Peer Average
% Less Than Peer Average
Research Universities
Regional Universities
Community Colleges
Source: FY 2004-2005 Tuition Impact Analysis Report, OSRHE

Recent increases in tuition have been necessary, in large part, because of significant decreases in state appropriations. As a result, the share of the primary academic budget provided by tuition revenues is now 36.1 percent, while the share of state appropriations has fallen to 50.3 percent. Various other sources (e.g. gifts, donations and some grants, but excluding sponsored research and other programs) provide the remaining 13.6 percent of the primary academic budget. The decline in state support also comes at a time of record college enrollment, creating major budgetary problems for Oklahoma’s institutions.

State appropriations have not kept up with enrollment increases.

Percent of Income Needed to Pay for College.

The state's economy has also affected average family incomes. Lower family incomes and higher tuition have resulted in an increase in the average percentage of income needed to pay for college, although we still remain below the national average.

Student financial aid has never been more important in helping families afford college. The most recent studies show that more than half (54.6 percent) of all students in the state system receive some form of financial aid. The total amount of state supported financial aid continues to increase, mostly to keep pace with the significant increases in students enrolled in OHLAP. Overall, however, the state’s commitment to providing aid for low-income students is well below the national average.

Nationally, states spend an average of about $40 for every $100 in federal student financial aid (Pell Grants) that low-income students receive. In Oklahoma, those students receive nearly $16 in state aid for every $100 in Pell Grants. The chart below shows the significant difference in state investment in student aid.

State Investment in Need-Based Aid Compared to Federal Investment. National average was 40.1%, and Oklahoma's was 15.8%.

Preparation of High School Students

College Attendance

Benefits of Higher Education


Degree Completion

Resources & Funding


OSUIT student.
Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology.