Recent state budget cuts to higher education are beginning to hit home, and as a result, students at Cameron University will see yet another tuition increase this fall. For the second straight year, the Oklahoma Legislature has reduced its funding of higher education, cutting over $24 million from the budget earmarked for state colleges and universities, with $3.35 million coming directly from the budget of Cameron University.

On Tuesday, the University of Oklahoma, Cameron University and Rogers State University Board of Regents met in Norman to review and approve the three institutions' budgets for the upcoming year. The Regents approved Cameron's proposed  $46,326,577 operating budget and initiatives with more than $34 million earmarked for student instruction, scholarships and services; academic support and tuition waivers. The state budget appropriation for the new operating budget at $17,677,421, 16 percent less than last year's appropriation. The operating budget at the beginning of last academic year was $50,815,526 with a state appropriation of $21,783,333.

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Faced with the drastic revenue shortfall, University president John McArthur says the school is doing everything they can to adjust, but their hand has been forced by the state cuts and a tuition hike was inevitable. When students return to Cameron this fall, they will see a 7% increase in tuition, which equates to an additional $13 per credit hour. Full time students will have to come up with $195 more per semester. McArthur says he understands that this increase will be hard for some of the students, so they've turned to alternative funding sources.

The university is also reducing its expenditures by $4.3 million, which is an 8.95% decrease from what was spent the year before. The decrease is a direct result of the elimination of 66 faculty and staff positions, as well as a reorganization of some academic and administrative departments.

Despite receiving the lowest state appropriations in 18 years to begin an academic year, prompting difficult decisions to request higher tuition this fall and to cut many staff and faculty positions, Cameron University will still offer affordable, quality education, said CU President John McArthur.

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With an estimated expected mandatory cost increase over $588,000 this year, regents at Cameron University are faced with replacing more than $3.94 million in the universities budget. Adjustments have been made in operating costs, a majority of the adjustments come from the cutting of 66 personnel positions earlier this year in anticipation of the budget short fall. According to President McArthur, the lone remaining alternative to making up the budget shortfall was an increase in student fees for the fall semester.

State Regents have tentatively approved Cameron's budget featuring the new tuition and fees rates, but the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education still have to officially vote on the tuition rates, and that vote will come June 30.

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source: Lawton Constitution, KSWO news