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David Boren: Flat-rate tuition provides way to cut costs for college

BY DAVID BOREN Published: July 6, 2013

We face three important questions. How can we find ways to reduce total college costs for financially overburdened students and their families? As states have cut their percentage of support for university budgets by half in the last 10 years and passed the costs to students and parents, that question has become even more urgent.

A second question is how can we produce more college graduates in Oklahoma as soon as possible? National studies show that the states with the highest per capita number of college graduates have the highest per capita incomes.

Third, how can we get more help to those students who are having to work long hours at outside jobs to pay their way through college? Pressures of 40-50 hour per week outside jobs often force students to drop out. The United States has fallen in just 10 years from being first in the world in the percentage of young people going on to college to 12th place.

A new plan we have just adopted at the University of Oklahoma will help to answer all of those questions in a positive way.

It is called the “flat-rate” tuition plan. Most private universities adopted it a long time ago and now leading public universities are following suit including nearly all Big Ten universities and half of Big 12 universities.

Students will pay a flat rate for tuition and mandatory fees based on their taking 30 credit hours per year. They will pay the same rate whether they take 24 hours per year or up to 42 hours. This will give all students an incentive to take at least 30 hours per year. If they do so, they will graduate in four years. They may do it by taking 15 hours each in two semesters or 12 hours each semester and then taking six more hours in summer school online OU courses, or by taking intersession classes between semesters.

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