The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on Thursday released a report about the state of higher education funding nationwide. The authors found that deep state cuts in funding for higher education over the last decade have contributed to rapid, significant tuition increases and pushed more of the costs of college to students, making it harder for them to enroll and graduate. These cuts also have worsened racial and class inequality, since rising tuition can deter low-income students and students of color from college.
Oklahoma has not been immune from these issues, but the last legislative session saw state lawmakers provide an additional $25.3 million increase, or about 3.3%, in funding for higher education. This followed a decade of drastic cuts to Oklahoma colleges and universities.
“Investing in higher education is a smart move for Oklahoma as it increases the state’s overall economic competitiveness,” said OK Policy Executive Director Ahniwake Rose. “It also benefits Oklahoma students and their families by making the cost of a college degree more readily attainable for students who might not otherwise be able to afford it.”
She noted that there remains much work to be done on restoring funding, a process that will take years to correct alongside restoration of other essential services.
“We see last year’s higher education funding increase as an optimistic sign that Oklahoma lawmakers recognize the value of our state’s colleges and universities,” Rose said.