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St. Gregory's University president: Working to increase affordability of private education

BY D. GREGORY MAIN Published: May 2, 2014

Oklahoma’s college students and their parents, like families across the country, have faced rapidly escalating higher education costs for more than a decade. With the proposed cut of nearly $50 million in the governor’s executive budget to state higher ed next year, that shortfall will again be placed on their shoulders.

St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee gets no state general appropriations, so this cut won’t affect our students. Quite the contrary, I recently sent a letter to all of our current and prospective students and their parents informing them of the measures St. Gregory’s has taken to increase affordability.

We see the continuing decrease of budgets and increase of tuition among public institutions as an opportunity for private universities to even the playing field when it comes to affordability, and we are taking advantage. For the third straight year, St. Gregory’s won’t raise tuition. Juniors will pay the same for tuition as they did their freshman year, something that’s mostly unheard of in higher education.

Distinctively, St. Gregory’s has eliminated fees, starting this fall. Seemingly reasonable tuition rates can skyrocket quickly with a list of fees for everything from student activities to technology. The only fees our students may pay will be modest ones related to specific courses — for example, a lab fee for biology.

We’ve also established an extensive financial aid program with the assistance of generous donors. Nearly all of our students, at all income levels, receive grants and scholarships that don’t have to be repaid. We offer more than 150 scholarships, such as a $3,000 grant for all active Catholic students. We will continue to buck the trend of escalating costs elsewhere by making the net price of attendance an ever-lowering percentage of the sticker price.

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