Common and higher education have traditionally been left to the states, he said — Oklahoma's constitution requires that lawmakers provide a sound public education system, and roughly 55 percent of the state's budget goes to education.
The federal government has more resources available, he said, and devotes some of those resources to education.
But despite that, Jolley said, education should remain primarily a state function.
Humphreys, a Republican, said government is most effective at a local level. Because state governments are closer to the colleges and universities they operate, they generally have a better sense of their needs.
Virgin said she's interested to hear Republican challenger Mitt Romney's ideas regarding Pell Grants.
She noted that increased funding to the federal financial aid program has spelled growth in college graduation rates.
Those graduates go on to play a major role in the economy, she said, because they provide trained, qualified workers to American companies.
This is a particular issue in Oklahoma, she said, where commerce and higher education leaders have predicted a shortage of qualified workers in the years to come if graduation rates aren't boosted.