The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, which serves as the governing body for Rogers State University, this week approved RSU’s budget for 2014-15, which includes a 7 percent increase in tuition and mandatory fees. The increase also was approved by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education on Wednesday.
The increase, which is in line with Oklahoma’s other regional universities, will result in an annual increase of $186.75 per semester for resident students taking 15 semester credit hours. The tuition and fee adjustment was necessary due to a significant increase in the university’s mandatory costs coupled with continued stagnant state higher education funding and a projected enrollment decline.
While the legislature kept state higher education funding for this upcoming fiscal year at the same level as the current year, the university will experience more than $1 million of mandatory cost increases, including in areas such as risk management insurance, library services, software and maintenance contracts, utilities and more. Since 1988, state appropriations as a percentage of the total higher education budget have declined from 74.2% to 38.7%, leaving students and parents to absorb much of the difference.
To address rising mandatory costs, Rogers State has initiated and maintained a number of cost saving measures expected to provide more than $2 million in savings during the 2014-15 year, including energy conservation programs, reclassification or transition of faculty and staff positions, reduced spending, reduced capital expenditures and more.
These measures are in addition to recent steps that have cumulatively saved more than $6.8 million from the school’s operating costs since 2011. Those cost savings have been used to offset mandatory cost increases and recent enrollment decreases, pay off debt service and provide faculty pay rank adjustments.
“We took a hard look at our budgets and found ways to reduce costs for the coming year,” said RSU President Dr. Larry Rice. “We remain committed to being efficient in our operations and implementing cost control measures so that we can continue to maintain RSU as one of the best values in higher education.”
RSU, along with several other Oklahoma regional universities, was recognized by U.S. News and World Report in January for having among the nation’s top 10 lowest in-state tuition rates. Higher education in Oklahoma has been recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as seventh in the nation for affordability and eighth nationally for system efficiency.
University enrollments for the fall are projected to be about 8 percent lower than last fall. Officials pointed to a number of factors for the lower enrollment, including a rebounding economy and enrollment trends among several key colleges and high schools that send students to RSU.
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 2014-15 RSU budget increased scholarships to $4.63 million, an increase of more than $300,000 compared to last year. In addition, the RSU Foundation continues to increase its efforts to raise funds for scholarships and endowments, successfully raising more money to support students and university operations.
Enrollment is currently underway for the fall semester on the RSU campuses in Claremore, Bartlesville and Pryor. Classes begin on Aug. 11. To enroll, or get more information, call 918-343-7777 or 1-800-256-7511 or visit www.rsu.edu.