Flat-rate tuition — initiated last year at the University of Oklahoma — will spread to three more state campuses this fall.
The tuition plans for all 25 public colleges and universities were approved last week by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
Under the flat-rate plan, undergraduate students who enroll in 12 to 18 hours will pay a flat rate per semester, based on 15 credit hours.
At Oklahoma State University, they will pay tuition at the same rate charged this past year.
Langston University and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha also will implement the flat-rate program this fall, but students will see a tuition increase.
“The flat-rate experience was good,” OU President David Boren said.
Students who didn’t take the full 30 hours in two semesters are taking advantage of the program to take summer school courses at no additional cost, Boren said. Summer school enrollment at OU is up 30 percent.
Students who cannot take 30 hours because of work or other issues can appeal the flat rate. About 300 students did, and about 280 appeals were granted, Boren said. Most were students within eight hours of graduation, he said.
OSU President Burns Hargis said the flat-rate plan provides an incentive to graduate sooner.
“Most degrees can be earned in four years if you take 15 hours per semester,” Hargis said. “Our graduation rate continues to hover in the low 60s. That’s not enough. We really need to improve that.”
Only 31 percent of OSU students graduate in four years, and about 60 percent graduate in six years, officials said when they rolled out the plan in March.
Shrinking state funds
Many college presidents told the State Regents they were forced to raise tuition to cover basic costs like utilities, insurance and building maintenance.
The presidents said they are concerned about shrinking state funding.
“Flat funding doesn’t mean flat expenses,” Northeastern State University President Steve Turner said.
State appropriations make up less than 40 percent of the total higher education budget. The appropriation for fiscal year 2015 — which begins Tuesday — is $62.4 million less than it was for fiscal year 2008.
“At OU, we’re operating with about $100 million a year less than we operated in the year 2008,” Boren said.
“In the past we usually had increases in the state budget to carry our fixed costs. We’ve not had those for five years,” he said.
“This can’t go on forever without our fixed costs being covered.”
Flat funding doesn’t mean flat expenses.”
President Steve Turner,,
Northeastern State University