State Regents approve Northwestern budget for FY14

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State Regents approve Northwestern budget for FY14

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education today approved the fiscal year 2014 institutional budget for Northwestern Oklahoma State University. The 2014 fiscal year begins July 1.

Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president, appeared before the Regents to outline Northwestern’s budget proposal. Northwestern’s governing board, the Regional University System of Oklahoma, gave its approval to the budget last week.

Northwestern’s primary operating budget for next year is $25,176,787, about 4.2 percent larger than the current budget.

University officials were faced with several mandatory cost increases in next year’s budget, including a 13 percent increase in health insurance premiums for employees. Other mandatory cost increases were seen in risk management premiums, unfunded pension liability and rising costs in information technology.

To produce a workable budget that provided for appropriate levels of academic and student services, a tuition increase of $9.50 per credit hour was approved, bringing the cost of tuition and mandatory fees to $173 per credit hour.

“Decisions to raise tuition are difficult,” Cunningham said. “Unfortunately, operational costs continue to far outpace state allocations. In order to maintain academic quality and an appropriate level of services to students, the only option was to change tuition rates.

“We are operating today on fewer state dollars than we were in fiscal year 2007. Virtually everything needed to operate a university costs more today than it did back then. We have and will continue to look for methods to operate more efficiently. An example of that is our Rent-A-Text program that saves many students hundreds of dollars per year in textbook costs.”

Despite the increase, tuition and fee costs remain well below the peer limit for regional universities. Northwestern also increased room rates on university housing by $50 per semester and approved a $40 per semester increase in its most popular meal plans to cover the rising cost of food.

In the fall of 2012, U.S. News and World Report credited Northwestern with having the most affordable campus living rates in the nation.

For the average student who enrolls in 30 credit hours of courses per year, lives in a semi-private room in campus housing, and has a 15-meal per week campus dining plan, the cost of attendance for an academic year is $9,150. Scholarships and other forms of financial aid can lower that cost significantly.

“For most families, college costs come down to a bottom line,” Cunningham said. “When you compare all of the costs associated with college attendance, we are clearly a value.”