REGENTS approve maximum tuition increase

Saturday, May 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma's higher education regents raised tuition rates Friday to the maximum allowed by a new law that permits regents to increase tuition for state colleges and universities.

The action, estimated to raise $15.4 million, was approved just four days after Gov. Frank Keating signed legislation authorizing regents to raise tuition for state residents up to 7 percent a year for the next five years.

The state's colleges and universities, which received no tuition increase last year, requested the maximum boost, said Harve Allen, a spokesman for the State Regents for Higher Education.

``We don't believe they're going to need the maximum amount next year,'' Allen said.

Keating signed a bill Monday that transferred from the Legislature to the regents the authority to raise tuition for the next five years.

The measure authorizes the regents to approve tuition increases of up to 7 percent for state residents and 9 percent for nonresidents each academic year.

Tuition for resident medical and legal students is allowed to increase up to 10 percent per year and nonresident fees up to 15 percent.

Higher Education Chancellor Hans Brisch said regents increased tuition the maximum amount in all categories except the University of Oklahoma law school, which requested a tuition increase for out-of-state students of just 10 percent, the same as in-state students.

Brisch said higher education institutions requested the maximum increase in tuition to make up for revenue lost when they received no increase last year.

``Next year, we may see greater diversity in the responses from our colleges and universities,'' said Brisch, who has cautioned against seeking the maximum increase every year out of concern that the Legislature could revoke the regents' authority.

``Each institution may have a different amount they need it raised to,'' Allen said. ``We really have to be very prudent and cautious in our action.''

Brisch said the additional revenues will provide more resources for professors' salaries, technology and other needs. He said student organizations have expressed support for the tuition increase.

``The learning environment could be improved if they would pay an additional buck,'' he said.

Regents have allocated nearly $860 million in state appropriations for higher education for the fiscal year beginning July 1, an increase of $43.7 million, or 5.4 percent, over the prior year.