The Norman Transcript

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July 7, 2014

Tuition tsunami hits state

NORMAN — In a little more than a decade, the number of out-of-state students attending Oklahoma’s public universities and colleges has more than doubled as schools increasingly rely on nonresident tuition to supplement their budgets.

From 2000 to 2013, the number of nonresident undergraduate students enrolled in public colleges and universities jumped to 22,169 from 10,129, an increase of 119 percent. The nonresidents hail from all 50 states. Nearly half of them are Texans.

In-state enrollment rose by 12 percent, to 135,842, according to data obtained from the State Regents for Higher Education and analyzed by Oklahoma Watch. That rate matched state

population growth.

The portion of what colleges call their “educational and general primary budgets” provided by out-of-state tuition also jumped significantly over the 13-year period.

The enrollment figures do not include graduate or international students.

The out-of-state tsunami is even more pronounced at Oklahoma’s two research universities. At the University of Oklahoma main campus in Norman, out-of-staters accounted for 32 percent of undergraduate enrollment last year, and their tuition provided 16 percent of the primary budget. At Oklahoma State University, nonresident students made up 26 percent of the undergraduate student body and covered 22 percent of the costs.

Higher education officials and experts say the striking growth in out-of-state enrollment is attributable in part to the comparatively low cost of attending college in Oklahoma, even for nonresident students who pay higher tuition rates.

It also reflects a history of shrinking financial support from state lawmakers. State appropriations provided 40 percent of undergraduate primary budgets last year, compared to 62 percent in 2000.

Former OSU President James Halligan, now a state senator, said he doesn’t view the rising nonresident student population as a cause for concern.

“I’m a Jefferson fan, and when Thomas Jefferson set up the University of Virginia he specifically indicated that they should welcome students from other parts of the United States,” said Halligan, R-Stillwater. “Students have a chance to interact with others who have a different viewpoint.”

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