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Affordability  

Providing students a high-quality, affordable higher education is a challenge for every state. The State Regents are committed to guaranteeing all students have access to a high-quality, affordable 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.

According to the State Regents’ 2008-09 Tuition Impact Analysis Report, Oklahoma residents pay an average of $740 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 the majority of their counterparts at other public Big 12 universities. Chart 8A also shows that the state’s regional universities and community colleges are also 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 decreased recently, due to the decline in the amount of state appropriations available. Because of this decrease, Oklahoma families are spending a larger percentage of their incomes to pay for a college education (graph 8B).

To help offset recent increases in tuition and mandatory fees, the State Regents also increased tuition waivers by $11.9 million, or 10.9 percent, across the state system in FY 2009. Funding for Oklahoma’s Promise was increased from $48.1 million in FY 2008 to $54 million in FY 2009. The number of participants in Oklahoma’s Promise is projected to grow from 16,900 in FY 2008 to 18,100 in FY 2009. 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 provide funding to the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG) program to help cover increased college costs. Since 2007, the State Regents have allocated $2.5 million annually in funding for concurrent enrollment waivers to encourage high school seniors to attend college.

Funding for 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 9A). In 2004, the latest data available, Oklahoma students received about $25 in state need-based aid for every $100 in federal Pell Grants, up from $16 one year earlier. Nationally, students received nearly $40 in state need-based aid for every $100 in Pell Grants. The national average remained basically unchanged over the two-year period.

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 31.1 percent of revenues. This compares to about 36.2 percent nationally in FY 2007 (graph 9B).

The proportion of the state’s support of higher education budgets has declined in recent years. In 2000, 62 percent of institutional budgets were funded from state appropriations, whereas for FY 2009, only 47.7 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 10A).

Using the latest statistics available, Oklahoma college students are funded at the national average. (graph 10B)

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