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2017 Legislative Agenda

Higher Education: Strengthening Oklahoma's Workforce

Printable PDF version (260k)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks Oklahoma’s system of higher education fifth in the nation in affordability, and the National Center for Education Statistics reports that the average student cost at a four-year public university in Oklahoma is third-lowest in the nation. The Southern Regional Education Board reports that among the 16 member states, Oklahoma’s public four-year institutions have the lowest annual tuition and fees for in-state undergraduate students and the third highest increase in the number of degrees and certificates conferred.

Lifetime Earnings

A student with a college degree will earn $1.1 million more in a lifetime than a high school graduate.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau.

Complete College America

Progress continues to reach Oklahoma’s goal of increasing the number of degrees and certificates earned by 67 percent by 2023.

Additional degrees and certificates earned:

Four-year goal: 6,800.
Four-year results: 8,462.

In the first four years of the CCA initiative, degrees and certificates earned in Oklahoma increased by 8,462, surpassing the state’s benchmark of 6,800.

Historic Budget Cuts

State support for Oklahoma’s higher education system has been set back almost a full generation. The $810 million appropriation to public higher education for FY 2017 is $4.8 million less than the amount
appropriated in FY 2001.

(click image to see larger version)Bar graph showing state appropriations to higher education compared to enrollment from FY 2001 through FY 2017. The graph shows that enrollment has steadily increased, while appropriations have fluctuated, resulting in less funding in FY17 than FY01.

Students Who Learn Here Earn Here

Eighty-five percent of Oklahoma residents who graduate with a college degree remain in the state and are employed in the state one year after graduation.

Workforce and Economic Impact of Public Higher Education

Governor Mary Fallin’s Oklahoma Works initiative is designed to bridge the skills gap between our current workforce and workforce needs. By 2020, 67 percent of jobs in Oklahoma will require a college degree or additional postsecondary education and training, and 37 percent will require an associate degree, bachelor’s degree or higher. Oklahoma higher education links academic programs directly to employment needs in the state’s wealth-generating ecosystems, including our top four areas of degree production: business, health occupations, engineering and education. Degree and certificate production in critical STEM disciplines has increased 28 percent over the last five years.

Our public higher education system generates more than $9.2 billion in economic impacts. For every dollar of state appropriations invested in higher education, $4.72 is returned to Oklahoma’s economy.

2017 Legislative Agenda

Concurrent Enrollment

The concurrent enrollment program allows outstanding juniors and seniors to earn college credit while still in high school. In 2015-16, there were more than 11,700 student enrollments in concurrent enrollment courses generating more than 103,000 credit hours. The State Regents earmarked $2.3 million of returned FY 2016 funding to support concurrent enrollment at campuses across the state.

Number of Concurrent Enrollment Students

2010-11: 7,565.
2011-12: 9,237.
2012-13: 9,544.
2013-14: 9,739.
2014-15: 10,475.
2015-16: 11,722.

No Weapons on Campus

There is no scenario in which allowing guns on campuses will do anything other than create a more dangerous environment for our students, faculty and visitors. Oklahoma higher education does not oppose the Second Amendment or gun ownership. Under current
law, campus presidents have the discretion to grant exceptions to the weapons ban when an exception is warranted. The current law is working.

In the past nine legislative sessions, bills have either been introduced
or discussed that would allow guns on campus. Each attempt has been successfully defeated to date, and ensuring similar legislation does not become law will continue to be a state system priority

Oklahoma's Promise

The state system of higher education strongly supports keeping the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship, which provides college funding for approximately 18,900 students, intact as an access program. More than 70,000 Oklahoma students have received the scholarship since the program’s inception.

FY 2018 Budget Need

FY 2017 Appropriation: $810,022,109.

FY 2018 Budget Need:

  1. Degree Completion Programs and Initiatives: $122,700,000
    1. Instruction and Academic Enterprise Requirements: $94,200,000 (includes mandatory fixed costs of $21,500,000)
    2. Facility Renovation/Physical Plant Maintenance: $18,600,000
    3. Institutional Scholarships: $9,900,000

  2. Financial Aid Programs: $12,700,000
    1. Restoration of Scholarship Programs: $6,300,000
    2. Full Funding of Concurrent Enrollment Program: $6,400,000

  3. Capital Requirements: $11,400,000
    1. 2005 Capital Bond Issue Debt Service Payments: $9,600,000
    2. Restoration of Maintenance and Repair Budget Reduction (Section 13 Offset): $1,800,000

  4. Restoration of Shared Service Programs: $1,100,000

FY 2018 Total Budget Need: $957,922,109.
Dollar Difference From FY 2017 State Appropriations: $147,900,000.
Percent Difference From FY 2017 State Appropriations: 18.3 percent.

Impacts of Historic Budget Cuts to Higher Education


Glen D. Johnson, Chancellor,

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, 405.225.9100,