Students will pay $7.50 more per credit hour
By Jeff Harrison
Rose State College is cutting staff and raising tuition to balance its budget for the coming year.
The school will increase tuition and mandatory fees by 4.9% or $7.50 per credit hour for the 2020-21 school year. A total of 61 positions have also been eliminated due to losses in state revenue.
The Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education last week approved increases to tuition and mandatory fees for Rose State and other public colleges and universities. The board met virtually on June 24 to hear presentations from university and college leaders.
Jeanie Webb, Rose State College president, said the decisions to increase tuition and reduce staff were necessary. She said they have reduced their budget by 10% for the fall semester, and expect to lose about 3.95% or $1.8 million in state funding for 2020-21.
The school has eliminated 21 full-time and 40 part-time positions, most coming through attrition. The cuts include faculty and support staff positions. Webb said the school has also increased efficiency by partnering with other colleges for academic programs, and outsourcing food services.
“I want to be realistic with our numbers so that we can meet our obligations and our expenses,” she said.
Rose State’s increase includes $5.50 tuition hike and $2 facility fee increase. The facility fee was created in 2017 to pay for construction of the new student union and enrollment center. Rose State officials and the Student Senate agreed to gradually increase the fee each year until it reached its current rate of $9. The school is planning an Aug. 25 grand opening for the student union.
A student with 30 credit hours will pay $4,775 for tuition and mandatory fees in 2020-21, which is an increase of $225 compared to last year.
In-state undergraduate students will increase an average of 1.3% statewide for the 2020-21 academic year. Public regional universities saw an average increase of 1.0% for in-state undergraduates. Oklahoma’s community colleges will increase in-state tuition and mandatory fee rates by an average of 2.2%.
Rose State had the third highest increase among community colleges. Murray State College will increase tuition and fees by $280 or 5.8 percent for 30 credit hours, and Western Oklahoma State will go up by 5.7 percent or $237.50. Six community colleges – Carl Albert State, NEO, Oklahoma City Community College, Redlands Community College, Seminole State College, and Tulsa Community College – did not request an increase this year.
Rose State ranks fifth among colleges for tuition. About 33 percent of students have student loan debt, which averages about $13,000. Most of that is housing costs and some for tuition. Webb said they work with the Rose State College Foundation to provide scholarships for students, and offer financial literacy classes.
Webb said they plan to resume classes on campus for the fall semester. The school has added a flex program that allows students to take classes in-person, virtually through Zoom video conferences or through a prerecorded lecture.
“I don’t think the (tuition) increase will have any impact on our enrollment,” she said. “I think COVID-19 will have a major impact. If we keep playing the fear monger, I think it will keep enrollment down. I’m hopeful at some point we don’t.”
Rose State increased tuition by 4.9% last year and 4.7% in 2018.