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OU Student Government Association reacts to 2.75 percent increase in tuition and fees, calls for university transparency

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The OU Student Government Association released a statement Tuesday after OU President Joseph Harroz announced a 2.75 percent increase in mandatory tuition and fees, urging the university to be more transparent with its students.

Harroz wrote in the Sunday announcement that the rise in tuition and fees came to support the Lead On, University Strategic Plan and increases in student services and academics. 

Crispin South, the chair of the Undergraduate Student Congress and an international security studies junior, wrote in his statement he is concerned about the impact the increase in tuition and fees proposes to OU students, the university’s communication and transparency and the role of the State of Oklahoma in higher education investment. 

“Even with this slight increase in funds, OU students are being asked to pay more,” South wrote. “OU students should not bear the burden of funding the University when the State of Oklahoma has failed to fund an institution that benefits the whole state.” 

After speaking with Harroz, South wrote he is hopeful Harroz and the OU Board of Regents will expeditiously release an explanation regarding what inceases in student services and academics will improve amid the rise in tuition and fees and a breakdown of specific financial plans for students to review. 

“I urge President Harroz and the Regents in the strongest possible terms to increase procedural transparency and search for alternative methods of funding the University, not extending the burden to students,” South wrote. “Furthermore, I similarly urge the State of Oklahoma to renew its commitment to higher education, not simply with words, but with funds.” 

South wrote the tuition and fees’ proposal will bring “further burdens” on OU students, as the tuition and fees proposed will raise the undergraduate resident cost, which is $12,788, by $248.97 per year and out-of-state tuition and fees of $28,169 by $671.95 per year.  

South wrote the resident tuition increase is close to what a student would invest on a monthly low-cost food plan and the nonresident increase is greater than one month of rent for an off-campus apartment complex.

“For some, this will mean taking extra work hours, potentially hurting the ability to adequately study,” South wrote. “For others, this will mean taking out more loans, potentially damaging their long-term financial futures.” 

South wrote he is aware of the financial burden caused by the tuition and fees  to OU students with little or no financial aid. He wrote this is especially important to consider as families recover from the “ensuing recession” caused by COVID-19. 

“While financial aid is available to low-income students, I remain concerned for students who are ineligible for more generous financial aid and will have to come up with these funds on their own,” South wrote. “Incoming students especially may have a difficult time securing more funds than they previously expected.”

Lastly, South wrote the State of Oklahoma has shifted the burden of the university’s funding from the state to the students historically, “failing to fund an institution” that is beneficial for the state. He urged the university to include students in the decision-making process surrounding the agenda by allowing them an opportunity to publicly comment in the agenda. 

“Education is something that benefits society as a whole, and appropriations from the state legislature ought to reflect that,” South wrote. “Additionally, students ought to be brought to the table to discuss these possibilities long before they are announced, as we are the primary stakeholders in the matter,” South wrote. 

Marien López-Medina is an international student and United World Colleges alumna from Nicaragua. She is majoring in journalism and nonprofit organizational studies and works as summer news managing editor and fall assistant news editor.

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