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Oklahoma State University

Higher education is vital to Oklahoma’s economy

Mon, April 24, 2017
Undergraduate Commencement

Many people don’t realize that higher education in Oklahoma is a bargain compared to other institutions around the country. With the focus being on education across the state, it is more important than ever to have all the facts regarding the cost and impact of higher education.

“Oklahoma State University ranks as one of the nation’s best in most affordability measures,” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “The affordability and efficiency of OSU helps Oklahoma’s economy by attracting students and faculty to the state and by providing an educated workforce ready to help their local communities. And as a premier land-grant university, we also support the state through wide-ranging research and our extension efforts in every Oklahoma county.”

Information regarding the cost of higher education can be broken down into four main categories: growth, efficiency, affordability and funding.


Pie chart showing revenue sources described below

With meeting the goals of record enrollment and record fundraising, OSU has been able to partially offset the decreases in state funding. In fact, OSU has hit record highs in system-wide, Stillwater-campus and freshman enrollment in the last five years.

Of course, a lot of OSU’s success can be attributed to the growth of undergraduate enrollment. Over the past six years alone, undergraduate enrollment at OSU-Stillwater has grown by 3,707 students — an average increase of more than 600 students per year.


Campus during Sunrise


OSU has continued to be efficient in managing and reducing costs, while still offering a great value to students. This diligence in efficiency has kept OSU’s institutional support cost per student at just over $1,000 — 41 percent of the national average for four-year public institutions.

OSU has also been an innovator in establishing an energy management program. The behavioral-based program has served as a model for the state and has saved OSU more than $35 million since July 2007.


Did you know nearly 50% of OSU Students graduate with no debt?

The average amount is $22,591, well below the national average and the lowest in the Big 12

Affordability is one of the most vital parts of OSU in attracting prospective students. OSU is even named to a variety of national lists for its value — including the Princeton Review, which named OSU as providing its students the “best bang for their tuition buck.”

Oklahoma is just as big of a player in making OSU affordable. Oklahoma is the third lowest state in average student cost for public four-year universities. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks Oklahoma fifth in the nation in overall affordability.

The average tuition and fees for a land-grant university is $11,312 and the average for schools in the Big 12 is $8,748. OSU’s average tuition and fees is $7,778 — nearly $1,000 in savings per year for students.

But the affordability of OSU goes beyond graduation day. Nearly 50 percent of OSU students graduate with no debt and the average amount of debt for an OSU student is $22,591 — well below the national average and the lowest in the Big 12.


The state appropriations to OSU this year account for only 15 percent of the revenue for all the agencies that carry out OSU’s land-grant mission. This includes all Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offices in all Oklahoma counties.

This is a decrease from 18 percent the previous year and 38 percent 15 years ago. Despite these decreases, OSU has still been able to rank among the most affordable institutions in the region, Big 12 and among land-grant institutions.

“In the end, higher education is an investment in the future of our state,” Hargis said. “It is vital to Oklahoma’s economy by providing world-class research, an educated workforce and improved learning opportunities for our citizens. No state with a small percentage of college graduates is as prosperous as those with a large number of college graduates.”

For more information on OSU’s growth and affordability, visit