The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, which serves as the governing body for Rogers State University, on Tuesday approved RSU’s 2016-17 budget, which includes an 8.8 percent increase in tuition and mandatory fees to help offset historic cuts in state appropriations for higher education.
The increase will mean Oklahoma residents taking 15 semester credit hours at RSU would see a $265.50 increase per semester when compared with last year’s rates. The OU Board of Regents approved the change in RSU’s tuition and fees during its meeting Tuesday, and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education will provide the final decision on the proposal during its meeting on June 29.
The university is requesting to adjust tuition and mandatory fees after the state reduced its support of higher education by 17 percent for the upcoming fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017. The reduction brought RSU’s state allocation to its lowest level since its second year as a four-year university in 2000-01. RSU’s state allocation for the upcoming fiscal year is more than $2.36 million below its initial allocation for the current year that ends June 30. State funds now total 38.5 percent of the university’s overall revenue, compared with nearly 75 percent just 15 years ago.
The proposed tuition adjustment will offset approximately half of the reduced state support, with budget cuts and employee furloughs making up the balance. To achieve these cuts, RSU expects to eliminate up to 60 academic courses, eliminate or keep unfilled 34 faculty/staff positions, have employees take up to 12 unpaid furlough days during the upcoming year, restrict in- and out-of-state travel, and reduce operating expenses across all campus offices.
A campus-wide budget advisory committee has been meeting regularly throughout the year to determine how to address the drastic cuts. University officials also have met with members of the RSU Student Government Association to discuss the planned tuition and fee increase.
“Oklahoma provides one of the nation’s best values for higher education, with tuition rates being among the most affordable in the nation,” said RSU President Dr. Larry Rice. “Thanks to the efforts of RSU’s budget advisory committee and our campus leadership, we have worked to keep our tuition increase as low as possible despite unprecedented cuts to state dollars that support our students and their pursuit of a college degree.”
Rice said university officials will continue to find operational efficiencies and implement cost control measures.
To offset rising tuition costs, the university remains committed to providing financial aid for students, both through institutional support and fundraising efforts among the university’s alumni and friends. The 2016-17 RSU budget includes a $490,000 increase in scholarships to $5.26 million, which is a 10 percent increase from the previous year. Scholarships and tuition waivers represent 16 percent of the FY2017 budget.
The RSU Foundation continues to increase its efforts to raise funds for scholarships and endowments, and last year distributed nearly $600,000 in scholarships for students. Through the efforts of the RSU Foundation and the RSU financial aid office, nearly 50 percent of RSU students last year were able to graduate without taking out student loans.
Any current or prospective students concerned that the tuition increase might keep them from staying in school are urged to contact one of RSU’s financial aid counselors to make sure they are maximizing all available scholarships, financial aid and on-campus jobs without having to shoulder student loans. For more information, please contact the RSU Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships at www.rsu.edu/financial-aid or 918-343-7553.
Enrollment is currently underway for the fall semester on the RSU campuses in Claremore, Bartlesville, Pryor and online. Classes begin on Aug. 15. To enroll, or get more information, call 918-343-7777 or 1-800-256-7511 or visit www.rsu.edu.