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Oklahoma's higher education governing board asks for increase to restore some of historic cuts

Students walk into Edmon Low Library at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla.
Chelsea Stanfield / KOSU
Students walk into Edmon Low Library at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla.

Oklahoma’s Regents for Higher Education are asking the legislature for an $85 million funding increase.

An increase of that size would lead to the highest state funding level in Oklahoma since 2015 at $898 million.

Oklahoma has consistently lagged behind the country after the 2008 recession. As colleges across the nation saw an increase in state funds, Oklahoma lawmakers continued to cut the state’s higher education budget.

Between 2008 and 2018, state lawmakers slashed the state appropriation for Oklahoma’s universities and colleges by more than 25%, or $265 million.

The current budget of $812 million is less than what the state provided for colleges in 2001 when it budgeted $814 million for higher ed.

The regents say the funds would help pay for workforce development programs, concurrent enrollment for high school students and more scholarships for needy college students. It remains to be seen whether the legislature will meet the request.

Across the country, as states disburse less money to universities, the cost of a college education is being shifted to students, in the form of tuition and fees. Almost half of Oklahoma’s college graduates finish school with debt.

Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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