June 25, 2003

OU Regents Approve RSU Tuition Increase

he University of Oklahoma Board of Regents has approved a tuition increase for students attending Rogers State University this fall to help offset state budget reductions.

During its meeting on Wednesday, the OU Board of Regents the governing board for RSU approved tuition increases of $7.75 per credit hour for junior and senior-level classes and $8.95 per credit hour for freshman and sophomore-level classes.

As a result, full-time students enrolled in 30 credit hours over the course of the next year will pay an additional $378 in tuition and fees. Last November, the OU regents approved an increase of $4.25 per credit hour in student fees at RSU, beginning this fall.

The increase in tuition and fees will help the university protect the quality of its academic programs during a period of reductions in state-appropriated funding, RSU President Dr. Joe Wiley said.

"An increase in tuition and fees will allow us to maintain the quality of our degree programs and keep faculty members with doctoral degrees in the classroom during this period of steep reductions in state appropriations," Wiley said.

The university's budget for 2003-2004 has been reduced by approximately 10 percent, on top of reductions of more than $1.3 million over the last two years.

RSU has left vacant some faculty and staff positions and reduced or eliminated expenditures in travel, capital equipment and technology.

However, the university will not sacrifice the quality of its existing programs or back away from its mission to expand higher education offerings in the underserved areas of northeast Oklahoma, Wiley said.

RSU will offer a new bachelor's degree in business administration with options in accounting and management this fall. The university also will seek approval, budget-permitting, to offer new bachelor's degrees in communications and justice administration in the fall of 2004.

Most colleges and universities in Oklahoma are increasing tuition for the next academic year after the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education was forced to reduce the state's higher education budget by more than $83 million in the wake of one of the state's bleakest budget pictures in two decades.

Tuition and fees at RSU will remain below the levels at all other regional universities serving the Tulsa and northeast Oklahoma area, Wiley said.

In addition, tuition and fees at Oklahoma's 11 regional universities, including RSU, are far below the rates charged by similar institutions in surrounding states, he said. Nationally, Oklahoma's regional universities rank 48 out of 50 in amounts charged for tuition and fees.

Meanwhile, the amount of tuition waivers provided to RSU students in the coming school year will nearly double, jumping from $584,051 to more than $1 million. Most forms of financial aid offered to students at RSU have been increasing in recent years. The amounts of scholarships, fee waivers and student employment wages have more than doubled in the last three years at RSU, Wiley said.

"RSU will do everything it can to keep students from bypassing college or dropping out because they can't afford an education," Wiley said. "The availability of more financial aid will help offset the increases in tuition and fees."

In March, Wiley met with the RSU Student Government Association and several other student organizations to discuss the tuition increase. In addition, RSU held two open public forums for students to ask questions and express their concerns about the increase. Most students understood the need for a tuition increase and were supportive of the decision, Wiley said.

This fall, Oklahoma residents will pay $65 per credit hour for lower and upper-division classes at RSU. Non-residents will pay $130 per credit hour for lower and upper-division classes.

Student fees will be $24.20 per credit hour at RSU this fall, compared to $19.95 last year. The expanded fee revenue will be utilized for technology, library resources and student facilities.