Oklahoma's best kept secret: regional universities offer best value
August 29, 2021
Northwestern Oklahoma State University continues to serve its students by providing a quality and affordable education as one of six regional universities in the state of Oklahoma.
"Regional universities are the best kept secret of Oklahoma's higher education system," Connie Reilly, chair of the Regional University System of Oklahoma (RUSO) Board of Regents, said in a recent editorial. "Not only do they offer students a quality education, but they are remarkably affordable, close to home, and almost half of graduates have no student debt."
For a full-time student from Oklahoma enrolled at a regional university like Northwestern, the average annual total cost to attend is 46 percent less than at the University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University.
"The Regional University System of Oklahoma takes special care to keep fees low, not creating additional costs for students since many scholarships, including Oklahoma's Promise, cover tuition and not fees," Reilly said.
In addition to low fees, Northwestern offers numerous scholarship opportunities to its students. In 1999, the citizens of Alva voted to increase the city's sales tax by one cent, with half of that cent being used for scholarships for students at Northwestern. This became the Alva Incentive Program in partnership with the City of Alva. This sales tax provides full-time freshmen and transfer students assistance with tuition, university housing and other school-related expenses if they live at an Alva address.
"The scholarship programs available give students at Northwestern a unique opportunity," President Janet Cunningham said. "We have incredible support from community members who want to see our students succeed. In fact, more than 50 percent of our students graduate debt-free because of programs like these."
Reilly said that students and parents of students currently paying for college will recognize how accessible the price is at regional universities.
"Few prospective students realize the significance of the total fees they'll be charged by the university they plan to attend," Reilly said. "At some universities, fees average an additional 138 percent of the price of tuition, more than three times the cost of fees at regional universities."
Fees at Northwestern are considerably lower than other higher education institutions. For the 2021-2022 academic year, Northwestern did not raise tuition or mandatory fees.
Recent high school graduates can find in RUSO schools like Northwestern a traditional college and campus experience for a lower cost.
Reilly added that a large percentage of non-traditional students – namely transfer students, working adults and part-time or returning students – appreciate that RUSO schools provide an affordable education and are flexible enough to allow them to reduce expenses by maintaining a full-time job, living at home or taking care of family.
"As the largest four-year university system in the state, RUSO's six public universities have campuses and satellites located in every quadrant of our state: East Central University, Northeastern State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Southwestern Oklahoma State University and the University of Central Oklahoma," Reilly said. "Students from rural communities can easily locate a regional university close to home."
Northwestern has campus locations in Alva, Enid, Woodward, which allows students an education closer to home. Northwestern also offers classes at the University Center in Ponca City. The Alva campus provides the student with a traditional college experience, while the Enid and Woodward campuses primarily serve non-traditional students, with all locations offering flexible class schedules and student organizations.
Reilly said students attending college for the first time or returning after a break, should consider the benefits of earning a four-year degree at a regional university – an affordable, high-quality education that will prepare them for jobs after graduation and a lifetime of successful earning.
"Obtaining a degree from Northwestern will allow you options that will create substantial differences throughout your lifetime through careers and salaries," Cunningham said. "Even if you think college is not the route for you, take a campus tour and see what your options are and how they line up with your goals."
For more information on taking a campus tour, call 580-327-8546 or email [email protected] For more information regarding Northwestern's scholarship programs, visit http://www.nwosu.edu/paying-for-college/scholarships.