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Maintaining a high-quality higher education system, while keeping it affordable is a challenge for every state. The State Regents are committed to making sure that students receive an affordable, quality education while ensuring that Oklahoma’s colleges and universities are keeping their costs down.

Oklahoma is one of the most affordable states when it comes to public higher education. In fact, recent national studies have indicated that Oklahoma continues to offer one of the least expensive college educations in the nation. In one such report, the Educational Policy Institute ranked Oklahoma second in the nation in affordability for a four-year college education.

Chart 6A: Comparing Undergraduate Tuition and Mandatory Fee Increases With Peers. Click chart for enlarged version.According to the State Regents’ 2006-07 Tuition Impact Analysis Report, Oklahoma residents pay an average of $790 less in tuition and mandatory fees for an undergraduate education than their peers in other states. The report revealed, for example, that students who enrolled in 30 credit hours at the state’s research institutions – Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma – continue to pay less for tuition and mandatory fees than their counterparts at other public Big 12 universities. Chart 6A also shows that the state’s regional universities and community colleges are well below their peers for tuition and mandatory fee costs as prescribed by state law.

State funding for Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities has been on the rise recently, after institutions had been seeing less state support even during times of record or near-record enrollments. Although state appropriations have increased significantly during the past two years when compared to the nation as a whole, Oklahoma families are spending a larger percentage of their incomes to pay for a college education (graph 6B), in part because of increased mandatory costs in areas such as energy and insurance.

To help off set recent increases in tuition and mandatory fees, the State Regents also increased tuition waivers by $4.4 million, or 12.3 percent, across the state system in FY2007. Institutions have implemented strategies to help students and their families, including creating or expanding tuition scholarship programs for low- to middle income students, providing additional funds for on-campus jobs and providing alternative payment options throughout the year.

The State Regents increased funding to the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG) program to help cover increased college costs and allocated $2.5 million in funding for FY2007 for concurrent enrollment waivers to encourage high school seniors to attend college.

Graph 7A: State Investment in Need-Based Aid Compared to Federal Investment. Click graph for enlarged version.Increases in these and other state-aid programs have enabled Oklahoma to move closer to the national average in its investment in need-based student financial aid (graph 7A). In 2004, the latest data available, Oklahoma students received about $25 for every $100 in Pell Grants, while students nationally received nearly $40 for every $100 in Pell Grants. One year earlier, Oklahoma students were getting approximately $16 for every $100 in Pell Grants. The national average basically remained unchanged.

Public colleges and universities are funded through a combination of many resources, including state appropriations and tuition. Another major source of funding is sponsored programs from the federal government and other sources.

When all sources of revenue are considered, tuition and fees accounted for 29.4 percent of revenues. This compares to about 31.2 percent nationally in FY2005 (graph 7B).

Graph 7C: Oklahoma Public College and University Budgets: Relationship Between State Appropriations, Tuition and Other Funding. Click graph for enlarged version.The proportion of the state’s support of higher education budgets has declined in recent years. In 1998, 63.5 percent of institutional budgets were funded from state appropriations, whereas for FY2005, only 50.8 percent of institutional budgets were covered by state funds. As a result, tuition and mandatory fees have increased to meet the loss of state funding (graph 7C).

Using the latest statistics available, Oklahoma college students are funded almost $600 less than the national average (graph 7D).

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