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Oklahoma’s higher education governing board asks for increase to restore some of historic cuts

Nyk Daniels

Oklahoma’s Regents for Higher Education are asking the legislature for an $85 million funding increase.

An increase of that size would lead to the highest state funding level in Oklahoma since 2015 at $898 million.

Oklahoma has consistently lagged behind the country after the 2008 recession. As colleges across the nation saw an increase in state funds, Oklahoma lawmakers continued to cut the state’s higher education budget.

Between 2008 and 2018, state lawmakers slashed the state appropriation for Oklahoma’s universities and colleges by more than 25% or $265 million.

The current budget of $812 million is less than what the state provided for colleges in 2001 when it budgeted $814 million for higher ed.

The regents say the funds would help pay for workforce development programs, concurrent enrollment for high school students and more scholarships for needy college students. It remains to be seen whether the legislature will meet the request.

Across the country, as states disburse less money to universities, the cost of a college education is being shifted to students, in the form of tuition and fees. Almost half of Oklahoma’s college graduates finish school with debt.

StateImpact Oklahoma is a partnership of Oklahoma’s public radio stations which relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online.

Robby Korth grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a journalism degree.
StateImpact Oklahoma reports on education, health, environment, and the intersection of government and everyday Oklahomans. It's a reporting project and collaboration of KGOU, KOSU, KWGS and KCCU, with broadcasts heard on NPR Member stations.
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