State cuts raise tuition

Charlene Belew
Content Editor
@CBelew15

The 2015 fall semester at Cameron University opened with a tuition increase of $8 per credit hour.
The tuition increase of 4.5 percent comes after Oklahoma officials worked to bridge a gap in the state’s fiscal year budget, suffering from a $611 million shortfall.
At the end of appropriations, the education world received the news of flat funding while other agencies received cuts, including the State Regents for Higher Education, who saw a loss of $24,111,177.
Vice President for Business and Finance Ninette Carter, who now fills the shoes of former VP Glen Pinkston, said for Cameron, the decrease cost a little over $760,000.
“In addition to [the decrease] we’ve had some other expenses that have increased – our software licensing, maintenance projects, just various utilities,” Carter said.
“Those things increased as well as [receiving] a decrease. We had quite a hole to cover. So, we, like many of the other schools in Oklahoma, looked at different ways to try to rearrange things, cut expenses where we could and we did do that. But still we had a hole.”
That’s where tuition increases come into play, according to Carter, who said a downturn in the economy from sinking oil prices plays a direct correlation to the state’s shortfall.
“A good number of the state’s revenue comes from oil and gas production and sales tax collections,” she said. “When the economy goes down … then of course the state is stuck with trying to figure out how to do things.”
But the tuition increase wasn’t something sought first, according to Carter, who said the matter isn’t one taken lightly by university officials.
“We look everywhere we can to see what we can do to cut costs,” she said. “We look at our efficiencies in programming. We look to make sure that we’re going to keep our academic programs to what students want and that are appropriate for this region … We look everywhere we can before we look to tuition increases.”
The funding allocation from the state, however, is based on estimates for their fiscal year, and Carter said Cameron is hoping the estimates are correct, but officials are bracing for another decrease just in case.
“It’s not unheard of for them to do another cut,” Carter said.
According to AAA Oklahoma, on Tuesday, Sept. 9, West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at $45.94. Continual decreases in pump and barrel prices across the state may not bode well for these state allocations, according to The Associated Press, which reported another income tax cut is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, totaling $57 million in reduction for the final portion of the fiscal year.
In an interview with AP, Secretary of Finance and Gov. Mary Fallin’s chief budget negotiator Preston Doerflinger said “concern does not equal panic” about what may be another impending budget hole.
“There is concern, but I would also say that it’s still manageable,” Doerflinger told AP, noting real numbers would be seen in December.
Carter stressed the University is doing what it can to maintain an affordable, quality education for Aggies, though, even during a time of financial crisis for the state.
Among these vital strides to combat the cuts are what Cameron University calls CU Saves and an increase in tuition waivers and scholarships, according to Carter.
“This last spring, we worked with CU Saves, got suggestions that way and implemented some of them,” she said. “…We increased tuition waivers and scholarships by $220,000. We have a number of students on tight budgets. We understand that, so we increased the availability … to help the students who are in the most financial need.”
Should a state shortfall affect the university’s budget, Carter said officials will take the same steps to reexamine their efficiency, but other options may be put on the table to ensure affordable education.
“At some point, if they continue to decrease us, we’re going to have to look at whether we’re going to have to cut back on student programs or academic programs,” Carter said. “Hopefully we won’t have to do that in the near future. It’ll make for some difficult decisions.”
Currently, Cameron University is the third regional university in low costs, according to Carter.
In 2014, approximately 56 percent of Aggies graduated without any debt, according to a press release, and the university ranked in the “top 5 percent of 620 like universities across the nation in terms of students graduating with low debt.”
Cameron’s rate for FY16 for 30 credit hours totals $5,580 while other public, four-year institutions cost over $9,000, according to The College Board.
“It’s not unheard of for them to do another cut,” Carter said.
According to AAA Oklahoma, on Tuesday, Sept. 9, West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at $45.94. Continual decreases in pump and barrel prices across the state may not bode well for these state allocations, according to The Associated Press, which reported another income tax cut is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, totaling $57 million in reduction for the final portion of the fiscal year.
In an interview with AP, Secretary of Finance and Gov. Mary Fallin’s chief budget negotiator Preston Doerflinger said “concern does not equal panic” about what may be another impending budget hole.
“There is concern, but I would also say that it’s still manageable,” Doerflinger told AP, noting real numbers would be seen in December.
Carter stressed the University is doing what it can to maintain an affordable, quality education for Aggies, though, even during a time of financial crisis for the state.
Among these vital strides to combat the cuts are Cameron program CU Saves and an increase in tuition waivers and scholarships, according to Carter.
“This last spring, we worked with CU Saves, got suggestions that way and implemented some of them,” she said. “We increased tuition waivers and scholarships by $220,000. We have a number of students on tight budgets. We understand that, so we increased the availability … to help the students who are in the most financial need.”
Should a state shortfall affect the university’s budget, Carter said officials will take the same steps to reexamine their efficiency, but other options may be put on the table to ensure affordable education.
“At some point, if they continue to decrease us, we’re going to have to look at whether we’re going to have to cut back on student programs or academic programs,” Carter said. “Hopefully we won’t have to do that in the near future. It’ll make for some difficult decisions.”
Currently, Cameron University is the third regional university in low costs, according to Carter.
In 2014, approximately 56 percent of Aggies graduated without any debt, according to a press release, and the university ranked in the “top 5 percent of 620 like universities across the nation in terms of students graduating with low debt.”
Cameron’s rate for FY16 for 30 credit hours totals $5,580 while other public, four-year institutions cost over $9,000, according to The College Board.

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