There are a number of good reasons why Oklahoma’s state colleges and universities are setting record numbers of enrollments. The staggering economy, for one, makes staying in school more attractive when jobs are few. Retraining of workers in professions where jobs are prevalent is another.

State regents report 193,462 students were enrolled in state colleges and universities for the fall semester. It’s the second straight year that the record has been set. Enrollment is up more than 3 percent over the fall of 2009.

We’d like to think colleges and universities also are doing a better job in student retention and graduation. OU has made a big push to keep students enrolled and shepherd them through to their expected graduation date.

But many factors keep students from graduating. Financing a college education is a major obstacle. Students who leave school with massive loads of debt find their paychecks grow even smaller when paying back student loans.

The state has many programs to help out. Oklahoma’s Promise, a scholarship available to students whose annual family income is less than $50,000, can enroll tuition free if they meet certain requirements beginning in the eighth grade. Nearly 21,000 Oklahoma students are expected to be awarded Oklahoma Promise scholarships next year.

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