The Norman Transcript

Opinion

June 29, 2014

Elected officials responsible for higher education price hike

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

On Monday, the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents approved a proposal to increase costs on students by an average of 4.8 percent.

Resident undergraduates enrolled in 15 hours will see their tuition and fees increase by $268.50 per semester, while nonresidents will see an uptick of $561.

While I commend the Board of Regents and especially President David L. Boren for their efforts to mitigate the effects of our state funding shortfall, let’s be perfectly clear about who is responsible for this cost increase: our elected officials in Oklahoma state government.

The budget initially proposed by our governor would have cut funding for higher education by a devastating 5 percent.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of advocates like President Boren, this cut was reduced to zero in the final budget, so our funding level remained unchanged.

But because the Legislature neglected to cover the increase in our fixed costs, such as energy and health insurance, we were left with a shortfall. Students, then, are burdened with making up the difference through an increase in tuition and fees.

This fiscal punishment from our state officials is astoundingly illogical because the University of Oklahoma is one of the greatest economic engines in our state.

Every dollar invested into the University of Oklahoma creates an impact of $7.76 on area income.

For every job on the Norman campus, 2.13 jobs are created in surrounding economies.

Our research campus, home to dozens of productive partnerships between the public and private sectors, was named the nation’s 2013 Outstanding Research Park. Hundreds of statistics like these can be found in OU’s 2014 Community Impact Report.

It’s abundantly clear that the University of Oklahoma is a crown jewel of the Sooner State, helping to drive Oklahoma forward amidst a struggling global economy.

It is one of the best investments in our state funding portfolio. Yet politicians in Oklahoma City have once again decided to underfund OU and force cost increases on thousands of Oklahoma families.

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