By SEAN ROWLEY
Though Oklahomans have seen funding for higher education slashed and tuition fees climb, there is still some good news for college students and their families around the state.
According to a recent online ranking by affodablecollegesonline.org, Oklahoma’s average public college tuition is ninth-lowest in the U.S.
Oklahoma’s average yearly tuition expense of $5,844 or an in-state undergraduate student ranked the state ahead of No. 10 Idaho. The top eight were Florida, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, West Virginia, New Mexico, Louisiana and Alaska. Florida’s average yearly in-state tuition is $3,980.
For an undergraduate credit hour, NSU charges $166.40 in tuition and mandatory fees per credit hour. Graduate level courses cost $204.15 per hour.
If they chose, incoming freshmen for 2013 could “lock in” a guaranteed rate of $185.65 until 2016.
Among Oklahoma’s four-year public institutions, NSU charges less per undergraduate credit hour than all other universities except Langston. Other state four-year schools include the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, Central Oklahoma, East Central, Southeastern Oklahoma State, Southwestern Oklahoma State, Northwestern Oklahoma State and Oklahoma Panhandle State.
Ben Hardcastle, executive director of communications and marketing for NSU, said the university wants prospective students and their families to know that tuition is affordable.
“NSU has managed to keep tuition costs down as a result of years of planning and determination to provide a quality classroom experience, but do so in a cost-effective manner,” Hardcastle said. “We want to offer a degree which will help students perform their jobs and have successful careers.”
While working to keep expenses under control NSU has yet to resort to layoffs, though vacated positions have sometimes been left unfilled for periods.
“I think the key is the administration’s long range planning out of the budgets,” Hardcastle said.
“But it also includes employees at every level understanding the situation, looking for ways to cut costs and doing so.”
Another cost reduction measure was undertaken during the summers of 2010-12, when the university asked many employees to a work week of four 10-hour days, permitting NSU to close some of its buildings on Fridays and reduce utility expenses.
“I think those savings occur everywhere and add up,” Hardcastle said.
“They include energy costs, maintenance of equipment and upkeep of buildings. But it is all done with an eye toward preserving our heritage as an institution and providing an outstanding experience for our students.”
Results of the survey are available at http://www. affordablecollegesonline.org/spotlight/affordable-college-degree-by-state/.