For the second year in a row, students will not see an increase in tuition rates at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.


Southeastern President Sean Burrage said the decision to hold the line on tuition costs sends a clear message to students and parents that the university is doing its best to ensure that a college education is both affordable and accessible.


Currently, 90 percent of Southeastern students receive some form of financial aid, and each year, about 50 percent of graduates are first-generation college graduates. At the same time, the university continues to expand its on-line course offerings to broaden the accessibility to a college degree.


“We are continuing to experience significant enrollment growth, in large part, due to the popularity of our online programs,’’ Burrage said. “This growth in student credit hours has a positive effect on our revenue and overall budget, which in turn, allows us some flexibility in making decisions such as not raising tuition rates.’’


Southeastern’s Fall 2018 enrollment reached a 40-year high with 4,483 students, while the Spring 2019 numbers were the highest for a spring semester since 1983.


This growth has extended to the summer as well: Enrollment in summer 2019 has increased 25 percent over last summer.


Southeastern’s budget for FY20 of $53,788,695 was recently approved by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the Regional University System of Oklahoma Board of Regents. This represents an increase of slightly more than $3 million over last year’s mid-year budget revision. The increase has been funded almost in its entirety by a projected increase in student credit hours.


The budget includes a 3.5 percent salary increase for all full-time faculty members employed as of last year (partially funded by state), inclusion of a STEP increase for faculty, a salary increase for adjunct professors, the annualization of staff salary increases that were effective on April 1, 2019, and a 4.5 percent increase in employee health insurance costs.


Also included in the new budget were several new faculty positions and academic advisors for graduate programs in areas of enrollment growth.