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Few have student loan debt upon graduating from Carl Albert State College

Few have student loan debt upon graduating from Carl Albert State College

The first of a two-part series

With all the talk about the surging expense of a college education and student loan debt, Carl Albert State College stands at the forefront more than ever for a quality education at a reasonable cost.

The national statistics regarding rising tuition rates show that in some areas prices are indeed raging, yet in Oklahoma, and especially at Carl Albert, tuition increases have been held as low as possible while still enabling colleges and universities to keep their doors open. According to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, Oklahoma tuition and mandatory fee increases from 2009 – 2014 have gone up an average of 4.4%.  The five year change in some states has been as high as 48% to 70% increases.  Oklahoma is ranked fifth in college affordability across the nation.

“Based on Carl Albert’s tuition/mandatory fees and the increase percentages allowed over the past few years, you are talking a very small amount per semester for a student taking 15 hours at Carl Albert.  If you look at a student at a major four year institution, a 4.4% increase could translate into double or more of an increase compared to Carl Albert.”  Carl Albert State College President Garry M. Ivey continued, “Please don’t get me wrong, any increase in expense can be tough on a family. However, with most of our students covering their expenses through financial aid, the small hikes in our tuition are usually covered without a student having to pay out of pocket.”

“We have two main income streams to operate from, and those are state appropriations and tuition.”  President Ivey explained, “When we look at the past few years, we quickly see how the state money has decreased, which has forced schools to look at tuition rates for a way to meet budget demands.”  According to the Education and General Budget Summary and Analysis, state appropriations as a percent of total higher education budget have gone from 74.2% in 1988 to only 37.2% in 2015. To offset the expense that students face, there are several avenues of assistance.  Work study assistance, college tuition waivers, out of state waivers, a wide range of scholarships provided by the CASC Development Foundation, and with over 70% of CASC students receiving Pell grants, this translates to an estimated $6 million plus going to assist Carl Albert students financially this year. Over 90% of Carl Albert’s first-time entering freshmen students received some form of financial aid.

“All this leads to very few of our students going into student loan debt,” Stated President Ivey.  In 2013, 47% of Oklahoma graduates completed without any student loan debt. The state ranked fifth in the nation with the lowest amount of student debt with an average debt in Oklahoma equally $19,032 and the nation average at $28,400.  “Look at these averages and then zero in on the fact that only about one-third of CASC students had student loan debt upon graduating from Carl Albert and that average debt was approximately $1,500 per student for a two year time period.  This was a low number of students and a very small amount compared to state and national trends.  At Carl Albert our hope is to educate our students, send them to work, or transfer them to continue their education with little or no student loan debt.”

“For our students who are not on financial assistance and need to pay their way out of pocket, our tuition is one of the lowest in the region/state.  We have set up a system to allow students to pay for their college education using a payment plan so they don’t have to come up with the total amount owed all at once.  At Carl Albert, our overall cost of attendance is one of, if not the most affordable in the state.  We were recently listed on the top 50 list in the nation of most affordable community colleges.”  President Ivey concluded, “We never like to raise the price on an education at Carl Albert, but facts are facts.  We want to keep offering a quality education, and to do so we must meet the needs of the college.”

Part Two of this article will concentrate on the economic impact of Carl Albert State College in the region.

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