By Ken Miller
OKLAHOMA CITY — University of Oklahoma President David Boren said Friday he hopes state lawmakers will focus on funding both for higher education and public schools during the coming legislative session in an effort to keep down the cost of tuition and fees.
"We're hoping this may be the year of education at the state Capitol," Boren told the OU Board of Regents during the regents' meeting in Oklahoma City.
Boren said OU has seen a $125 million decrease in state funding since 2009 as the state has dealt with the effects of a national recession. He said public education has experienced a $200 million reduction during the same time frame.
"My hope is that we'll get about halfway back to where we were in 2009," Boren told The Associated Press following the meeting. He said any potential increase in tuition and fees, which rose 3 percent for the current academic year, are dependent on state funding.
Tuition and fees for in-state OU students are currently $8,705.50 a year, while out-of-state students pay $20,342.50. The tuition and fee schedule was approved in June, weeks after the Legislature adjourned.
"You can just sort of track it, as state funding goes down, they (tuition and fees) go up," he said.
Boren said state funding currently covers about 14 percent of the OU budget, which he said is currently about $1.6 billion for the systems three campuses, down from about 32 percent when he became president in November 1994. He said earnings from research projects and private donations have helped balance the university's budget.
The official request for funding for the university will come through the higher education budget put forth by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, which in November voted to ask lawmakers for almost $1.05 billion dollars for the 2014 fiscal year. The amount is a 9.47 percent increase, about $90.4 million, over the current state expenditures, according to spokesman Ben Hardcastle.
"Maybe we can't get all the way back in one year," Boren said, and any tuition increase "depends on what happens in the Legislature," in regard to funding for higher education, he said.