Boren said closing the deficit had nothing to do with the university’s high bond rating, but it was about balancing the budget, and when the university receives less from the state, funds have to come from other places.
Boren said the university was looking at different ways to close the deficit — for example, putting off buying new equipment or further energy conservation. Additionally, the university has kicked up research to bring in money and has relied prominently on private gifts in recent years.
“We’re talking to all the colleges and deans and asking, ‘Do you have any money rat-holed anywhere for a rainy day?’ because its raining,” he said. “We need to figure out what to do.”
The University of Oklahoma has one of the lowest undergraduate resident tuition rates in the Big 12, beaten only by West Virginia. For the 2013-2014 academic school year, Big 12 undergraduate resident tuition and mandatory fees averaged $8,774 — which excludes OU and Oklahoma State University — while OU’s undergraduate resident tuition came in at $7,341.
OU also offers the lowest out-of-state tuition and mandatory fees in the Big 12. OU was more affordable than OSU in both categories.
Funds for upcoming projects such as two new residential colleges, tornado shelters, remodeling Kaufman and Gittinger halls, growth of the physics building and the fellows program, and possible stadium improvements come from Section 13 Constitution money, bonds and private gifts. Boren said none of these projects would come to fruition by way of student tuition and fees.
“We’ve been really fighting to do two things — become a better university and trying to remain as affordable as possible. And juggling those two is the reason I have the Excedrin bottle. How do you stay a great university and provide the best education as possible while remaining affordable? They conflict, and you have to constantly try to strike a balance,” Boren said.