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April 5, 2004 :: Report Shows That More Oklahoma Students Receiving Financial Aid

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More than half of all students attending Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities in 2002-03 received almost $700 million in financial aid, higher education officials announced recently.

According to the latest Annual Financial Aid Report by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, more than 124,500 students received slightly more than $694 million in financial aid, mostly in the form of loans and grants. The total represents a 15 percent or $93 million increase in just one year.

Approximately 58,000 students received more than $354 million in loans in 2002-03, a 24 percent jump in just one year, while nearly 86,000 students were awarded grants totaling more than $230 million, which represents an 11 percent increase. Most of the grant money came from Federal Pell Grants and tuition waivers.

“One of the challenges our state system institutions face every year is making a college education affordable, and it’s not just limited to Oklahoma. In fact, it is a national issue,” Chancellor Paul G. Risser said. “We’re certainly encouraged to see that Oklahoma’s college students are seeking and receiving even more financial help to pay for their college education. It’s an investment that will pay for itself many times over in the future.”

Scholarships accounted for about $60 million of total aid distributed to students, which includes $15.9 million in state-funded scholarships, such as the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) and the Academic Scholars program.

The report also revealed that more than 15,000 students held part-time jobs on Oklahoma college campuses in 2002-03, including approximately 5,300 in the Federal Work Study program.

Students attending Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma accounted for 49 percent of all student-aid expenditures, the report showed, even though they comprised only 34 percent of all students who received aid. Students attending the four-year regional universities accounted for 32 percent of all student-aid expenditures and 35 percent of all students who received aid. Two-year college students accounted for only 19 percent of all student-aid expenditures, but they made up 31 percent of all college students receiving aid.

About 60 percent of students receiving financial aid were female and 40 percent were male, the report also showed.

Since 1992-93, the total amount of student aid awarded by state system institutions grew from $326 million to $694 million, an increase of $368 million or 113 percent. In addition, the proportion of student aid coming from loans and scholarships increased between 1992-93 and 2002-03, while the proportion coming in the form of grants and employment declined.

“The trends that we are seeing from this annual report show that we are on the right track in many areas; however, we have to remain very sensitive to the amount of student loan debt our students are incurring,” State Regents’ Chairman Ike Glass said, noting that Oklahoma’s colleges and universities have created additional financial aid programs on their campuses that are designed to help more low-to-middle income students pay for their college expenses.