Students from colleges and universities across Oklahoma asked higher education officials Thursday to keep them in mind during their conversations about tuition and fees.
The students spoke at a public hearing on tuition and fees held just before the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education's meeting Thursday. The board holds the hearing annually.
What officials said
During the hearing, System Chancellor Glen Johnson said the system's state appropriations are one of the key factors that drive tuition increases. Over the past four years, the system has seen its budget slashed 9.4 percent. That factor, coupled with an increase in enrollment, has created “a great deal of pressure” on higher education across the state, he said.
During the meeting, system officials presented the limits for tuition and mandatory fees for fiscal year 2013. Those limits are mandated by state statute, and are based on peer institutions in other states.
For the state's research universities — the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University systems — limits are based on Big 12 public institutions. Limits for regional universities and community colleges are based on similar institutions in surrounding and other states.
In almost every case, tuition and mandatory fee limits increased over limits for fiscal year 2012. But those increases don't necessarily indicate an increase in actual tuition and fees, which will be determined later this year.
No college or university in the state charges tuition and fees that are at or near the limits, said Amanda Paliotta, vice chancellor for budget and finance. Statewide, she said, tuition levels average about 64.5 percent of the allowable levels.
What students said
OU student Steve Sichterman said students recognize the system has seen financial difficulties in recent years. Students have begun to see the impact of budget cuts, he said. The number of courses offered at OU hasn't kept up with demand, he said, meaning students often have to wait a semester or more before taking courses that are required for their majors.
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