Increased concurrent enrollment at the University Center of Southern Oklahoma is great for college-bound kids, but less so for the center’s bottom line.
While overall all enrollment at UCSO has been down for the last  few semesters, concurrent enrollment has only increased. However, the center makes less money from concurrent students than it does from its college students.
“We need to start looking at new funding models because the way we’ve been doing it doesn’t work after the state budget cuts,” UCSO President Steve Mills said.
“Concurrent enrollment” refers to high school students in college courses, earning both high school and college credit simultaneously. In Oklahoma, universities waive concurrent tuition for high school seniors for up to 18 credit hours.The state used to reimburse the center for 100 percent of the waived tuition, but that number has shrunk to 26 percent.
 “It’s a good program, it’s one of those unfunded mandates from the state,” Mills said. “As budget cuts have happened, they’ve cut and cut and cut that percentage.”
The subject was up for discussion at UCSO’s quarterly board meeting. One possible solution posed would involve lowering tuition and introducing a fee, which would allow the center to earn more from each concurrent student without increasing the overall cost of courses. Each university that holds classes in the center has its own course fees, but so far, the center has none.
“When we waive the tuition for those students, that’s pretty significant for us,” Mills said. “That’s a lot of our revenue we’re waiving.”
Last semester, the center had about 270 concurrent students. Current UCSO tuition is $41 per credit hour. So far, the board has not made any decisions on the matter and is still weighing its options.
“We’re looking for ways to recover our lost amount because the concurrent enrollment just keeps increasing,” Mills said. “We waive the tuition for 18 hours, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those kids stay here and go to college. They may go off to OU or OSU, and we’ve got the bill for it.”