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Oklahoma's public colleges and universities request tuition increases

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education heard proposals Wednesday for tuition hikes at 14 colleges and universities.
Emma Murphy
Oklahoma Voice
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education heard proposals Wednesday for tuition hikes at 14 colleges and universities.

Fourteen presidents of Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities on Wednesday asked the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for hikes in tuition and fees.

Many presidents said inflation was a reason for the proposed increases.

But 12 presidents did not propose increases in tuition and fees, including Oklahoma State University, which marks the university’s fifth year without tuition increases.

Mark Tygret, vice chancellor for budget and finance for the regents, said the average request for tuition increases was about 2% for undergraduate students. Tygret said this equates to an annual increase of $125.70 for Oklahoma residents enrolled in 30 credit hours.

“Including the proposed increases, the systemwide average for resident tuition and mandatory fees remain well below the regional and national peers,” Tygret said.

University of Oklahoma President Joseph Harroz asked for a 3% tuition and fees increase. Tuition at the University of Oklahoma has increased every year since 2020.

But Harroz said the flagship university has also been able to make tuition 28% cheaper today than it was five years ago for Oklahoma residents with scholarships and aid.

“There’s nothing cavalier about this … We know inflation continues and I’d love to be able to stop inflation, but we can’t,” Harroz said. “As inflation goes up, the workforce is going to want to at least try to keep pace with the devaluing of their salary relative to inflation, it’s the biggest expense.”

Harroz said the University of Oklahoma budgeted $15 million this year to offset inflation for OU employees.

Todd Lamb, University of Central Oklahoma president, asked for a 3.5% increase in tuition. The increase would generate about $2.5 million in revenue, something Lamb said the university needs since it does not receive any direct appropriations.

“We’re not an R1 (research university) like our friends in Stillwater and Norman, yet we’re twice as large as the next biggest school in RUSO (Regional University System of Oklahoma),” Lamb said. “We receive no direct appropriations although we’re arguably large enough to receive some.”

Southwestern Oklahoma State University’s President Diana Lovell asked for a 2.5% increase to tuition.

East Central University President Wendell Godwin wanted a 2.4% increase and offered a plan to fix the foundation of a central building on his university’s campus using deferred maintenance funding.

Jack Sherry, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education chairman, said the process of determining which institutions need the increases is a hard job.

“No one would be here if they didn’t really need it,” Sherry said. “We’re thankful for the appropriation from the legislature for deferred maintenance. It’s always hard to decide where that money goes but inflation is hitting everyone hard and we try to keep it positive.”

In May, the state legislature approved a $350 million appropriation to address deferred maintenance as well as an additional $240 million for new engineering and science facilities at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.

The regents will vote to approve or deny the requests on Thursday.

Oklahoma Voice is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oklahoma Voice maintains editorial independence.

Emma covers the statehouse for Oklahoma Voice. She is a graduate of University of Missouri - Columbia and covered Missouri's legislature for three years at the Columbia Missourian.
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