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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – University of Oklahoma students will see their first tuition increase since 2018. OU officials say they have a plan to keep the university out of the red, like it was three years ago, and that includes a tuition increase in 2021.

“How do you balance excellence and affordability?”

For OU President Joseph Harroz Jr., that is the big question when it comes to whether or not to increase tuition. He says the over $65 million has been cut from the university budget since the last time there was a hike, but now a 2.75 percent increase is needed in tuition and mandatory fees.

That breaks down to about $250 dollars a year for in-state and $675 a year for out of state students.. It also puts close to $7 million dollars into the school budget. Board members were not in total agreement about the move.

“A 2.75 percent increase is modest in the least. We have to make investment in this university,“ said OU Regent Michael Cawley

“I’m not for this budget because it has a tuition increase,” said OU Regent Rick Nagel.

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University of Oklahoma

OU Regent Eric Stevenson said “everything that the university has to deliver cost more, food costs more, building materials cost more.”

The school says the decision is so big it was important to break with protocol and allow comments at Tuesday’s board meeting.

“With the ongoing pandemic and the amount that they want to charge students, I don’t believe that is something feasible at this time,” said Crispin South, OU Senior/Student Congress.

“I feel like there were other options that could have been exhausted before we place the burden on our students and on our families,” said OU Junior Sidney May.

Harroz is sympathetic to the concerns of students but stressed that prior to 2018 there had been a tuition increase each year for the previous 25 years and many of those had out-paced inflation.

“We would like to never increase it. We certainly don’t want big increases, we certainly know there is an impact to the students and the entire effort is to think carefully about how do we balance the excellence we know our students deserve and demand with affordability,” said Harroz.

OU’s president also stressed some students on financial aid won’t pay the full increase. The tuition hike passed by a large majority; it will go into effect next fall.

Oklahoma State University administrators also approved a tuition and fee increase for the fiscal year 2022 budget.