The University of Oklahoma campus. The Norman campus is empty because students have moved all their in-person classes to the web.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

State budget cuts put Oklahoma’s higher education funding back in the 20th century

COVID-19 cuts to higher ed plunge higher ed funding

  • Robby Korth

COVID-19 cuts to colleges have led to a state appropriation that’s lower than it was in 2000. 

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved an allocation Friday worth $770 million. Before the turn of the 21st century, during the 1999-2000 fiscal year, the system got $739 million from the state. And by 2001, two decades ago, its $814 million budget outpaces where the system is today.

Oklahoma has consistently lagged behind the country after the 2008 recession. As colleges across the country saw an increase in state funds, Oklahoma lawmakers continued to cut the state’s higher education budget.

Between 2015 and 2020, higher education funding from states rose by on average 18.8% which represents $15.3 billion total. In Oklahoma, funding fell 18.6% or $195 million, according to the Grapevine Survey, conducted by Illinois State University. The survey measures state support of colleges and universities nationwide.

Oklahoma was one of only five states to see a decrease in that period.

Cuts shift costs of higher education onto students and that has led to tuition and fee growth that outpaces the rate of inflation nationwide.