A report recently presented to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education revealed that more Oklahoma college students are receiving some form of financial aid and the total amount awarded has nearly doubled from a decade ago.
According to the Annual Financial Aid Report, nearly 117,000 students attending state system institutions in 2001-2002 – slightly more than half of the entire student population – received some form of financial aid totaling $601.4 million. The majority of aid, approximately $286 million or 47.5 percent, was in the form of federal, institutional and private loans, which were dispersed to nearly 57,000 students in 2001-2002. Grants, scholarships and student employment made up the remaining 52.5 percent of total student aid.
Oklahoma Higher Education Chancellor Paul G. Risser said even though Oklahoma has some of the lowest tuition rates in the nation, many students still need financial assistance in order to turn their dream of a college education into reality.
“It’s extremely important that students have the necessary resources to be able to attend college and become an integral part of the state’s economic growth. We want to make sure that college affordability is not diminished and that access is not restricted for students who meet the requirements to be admitted to any state system institution,” Risser said, noting that a college graduate will make an average of $1 million more than a high school graduate over a lifetime.
Grants made up 34.4 percent of the total or $207 million, awarded to approximately 82,000 students in 2001-2002, mostly in the form of federal Pell grants ($112 million) and tuition waivers ($52 million). A total of 22,720 students received nearly$19 million in grant aid from the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG).
Scholarships accounted for just over 9.2 percent or $55 million of total aid distributed to students, which includes $14 million in state-funded scholarships such as the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program and Academic Scholars.
More than 17,000 students held part-time jobs on Oklahoma college campuses, including approximately 5,700 in the federal work study program, which accounted for 8.9 percent of the total student financial aid in 2001-2002.
The report also showed that students attending the comprehensive universities, Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma, accounted for 49 percent ($293.6 million) of all student aid, even though they comprised only 33 percent (38,716) of all students who received aid. Students at the four-year regional universities received 32 percent or $195.6 million of the student aid, while the two-year college students received 19 percent or $112.1 million.
Of the nearly 117,000 financial aid recipients, 59 percent were female and 41 percent were male, the report indicated.
Since 1992-93, the total amount of student aid awarded by state system institutions grew from $326 million to $601 million, an increase of $275 million or 84 percent. Last year, $550.3 million in student financial aid was awarded to approximately a thousand fewer Oklahoma college students. In addition, the proportion of student aid coming from loans and scholarships increased between 1992-93 and 2001-02, while the proportion coming in the form of grants and employment declined.
“The State Regents are committed to ensuring that a college education is possible for all Oklahoma students,” State Regents’ Chairman Carl Renfro said. “With the help of increased student financial aid, more Oklahomans are reaching their educational goals and making a positive contribution to our society. They are improving the quality of life for themselves and all Oklahomans as well.”