June 27, 2012
OU Regents Approve RSU Tuition Increase
Tuition and mandatory fees will increase by 5.7 percent this fall at Rogers State University in order to offset dramatically rising operating costs, stagnant state funding and new academic initiatives, including bolstered academic support and advising.
The Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma, the governing board for RSU, approved the changes at its meeting Tuesday, June 26.
"We have worked diligently to hold down operational costs to keep tuition affordable for students and their parents," said RSU President Dr. Larry Rice. "However, state support for higher education has not kept up with demand and doesn't reflect the rising fixed costs for university operations."
For the coming fiscal year, the university is facing a $662,000 increase in uncontrolled and mandatory costs, such as insurance, utilities, teacher retirement and other costs outside of the university's control. Meanwhile, RSU's state appropriation increased only by $195,500.
During the past decade, RSU has seen state appropriations decline from 72 percent of its annual budgeted needs to 43 percent this year. In the same period, RSU's enrollment has increased by more than 62 percent and the university has added nearly 600,000 square feet of building space serving academic, athletic and student needs.
This fall, tuition will be $108.75 per credit hour. Based on a 30-credit hour annual course load, the tuition and mandatory fees for in-state residents would increase by $270 in the coming year. This reflects a 5.7 percent increase, below the state average of 6 percent for Oklahoma regional universities.
The new revenue included in the budget will be used to fund several new academic initiatives including adding four new full-time faculty and hiring academic advisors, tutors and other support staff to be able to better serve student needs. Specifically, the university will be adding an advising/retention specialist in each school to manage entry-level student advising, distribution of basic career and graduate school information, graduation checks and other associated duties for students with less than 24 credit hours. The advising/retention specialist also will be coordinating a tutoring center within each school to be manned by professional and student staff. Also, the university will implement a pilot program to provide supplemental instruction to augment traditional instruction for at-risk students in high-risk courses where lower-than-average student performance has historically been noted.
There will be an adjustment in mandatory fees, including a reduction from $14.50 to $10.75 per credit hour for the facility fee funding construction of the Centennial Center. The university also is implementing a $3.75 per credit hour fee to improve campus safety by hiring additional officers and implementing an outdoor emergency notification system. A $1 per credit hour fee is being implemented to expand services in the on-campus health clinic that serves students.
RSU officials have discussed the increased tuition and fees with representatives of the RSU Student Government Association, which expressed concern about the increases but realized they were financial necessities for a growing university.
To help students and parents cover the increase, the university is boosting its scholarship budget by 11.9 percent, or $434,000, to $4.09 million for the coming year.
Nationwide, students and their parents are paying a higher percentage of the cost of a college education as state legislatures face fiscal challenges and are unable to maintain adequate support for public education.
To offset rising operational costs, RSU has concentrated on a range of cost-saving measures, which have saved more than $1.6 million last year and total nearly $6.5 million during the past five years. As part of its cost-cutting, the university also announced the pending closure of its on-campus childcare center, which served only 13 RSU students when the closing was announced in May after several years of rising operation costs that outstripped revenues. The aging childcare facility was not financially viable to remodel, and the OU Board of Regents during its June meeting authorized the building be razed.
Other cost saving measures include eliminating the position of Vice President for Economic and Community Development, continuing the university's successful energy savings program, partnering with other government agencies for physical plant repairs, canceling select professional memberships and reviewing opportunities to outsource other university-provided services.
"Seeking an increase in tuition and fees was not a measure undertaken lightly, and we recognize our responsibility to keep higher education affordable for families in northeastern Oklahoma," Rice said. "We are committed to operating the university in a fiscally responsible manner. We recognize that a college education is still an excellent investment and the best way for students to increase their knowledge base, earnings potential and quality of life."
Enrollment is currently underway for the fall semester on the RSU campuses in Claremore, Bartlesville and Pryor. Classes begin on Aug. 13. To enroll, or get more information, call (918) 343-7777 or 1-800-256-7511 or visit www.rsu.edu.