STILLWATER — Full-time undergraduate students at Oklahoma State University who enroll in 12 to 18 hours will pay the same flat rate for tuition and mandatory fees beginning with the fall 2014 semester.
Based on current rates for 15 hours, the cost will be $3,721 per semester for state residents and $10,013 for out-of-state students.
The Board of Regents for OSU and the A&M Colleges approved the new block tuition model Friday. Final approval will come from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
The University of Oklahoma began a similar plan in fall 2013.
“It is designed to help students graduate quicker, while potentially reducing the total cost of an OSU degree,” President Burns Hargis said.
Hargis said he hopes the change will eliminate the need for any increases in tuition and fees for the 2014-15 academic year. Those rates will be announced after OSU’s 2014-15 budget is approved in June, he said.
The new model — called Finish in Four — not only can shorten the time it takes to earn a degree, but helps students’ families budgeting for college, he said.
“It think it’s a horrendous idea. It aggravates me,” said John Higbee, an OSU alum and parent of two students.
Higbee said his older son is an architecture major, and that’s a five-year program. Both sons have to work to help pay for college and often can’t take 15 hours.
“I don’t want to pay for stuff I’m not getting,” he said.
Higbee, a math teacher and coach at Clinton High School, said he and his wife both work extra jobs to pay the college bills.
OSU officials said there will be an appeals process for students who have to work.
Only 31 percent of OSU students graduate in four years now, and about 60 percent graduate in six years.
“We want to change the culture so students think four years,” said Christie Hawkins, an associate vice president who coordinated the plan.
Students who complete at least 15 hours of applicable coursework each semester can earn most degrees in four years, Hawkins said.
Cutting out those extra semesters eliminates additional expenses for room and board, reduces student loan debt and gets graduates into the workforce faster, she said.
Work on Finish in Four began in the fall and included input from faculty, staff and students, Hawkins said.
Student taking less than 12 hours will continue to be charged on a per-credit-hour basis.