MCALESTER, Okla. – Strengthening Oklahoma’s workforce pipeline continues to be a top priority of the state system of higher education. That was the message delivered by Chancellor Allison D. Garrett as she presented the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s 2023 legislative agenda and FY24 budget request to an audience of lawmakers, community leaders and educators at the Southeast Oklahoma Legislative Tour at Pete’s Place on Jan. 12.
Students and representatives from Eastern Oklahoma State College, Carl Albert State College, Connors State College, Murray State College, Seminole State College, East Central University and Southeastern Oklahoma State University were in attendance. Eastern sophomore Trent Fronterhouse, a sophomore from Gerty, Okla., shared about his experiences in college and how a degree will change his life.
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education are requesting $986 million in state funding for FY24, which reflects an increase of $105.1 million or 11.9% over the FY23 adjusted appropriation of $880.9 million.
“Our primary objective is to produce more college graduates to address Oklahoma’s evolving workforce demands,” said Chancellor Allison D. Garrett. “This budget request reflects state system priorities to build on successful workforce development initiatives, fully fund concurrent enrollment for high school juniors and seniors, and support academic and operational innovations at our public colleges and universities.”
The State Regents are requesting $23 million for FY24 to fund the Oklahoma National Guard Educational Assistance Program, the Oklahoma Future Teacher Scholarship and Employment Incentive Program ("Inspired to Teach"), and the Concurrent Enrollment Tuition Waiver program. Public higher education’s budget request also includes $26.3 million for strategic investments that align with Oklahoma’s projected workforce needs in healthcare and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields and increase adult degree completion.
The State Regents are requesting $49.3 million in FY24 to fund performance-based institutional allocations to address operational support needs; strengthen college access and academic success services for students; fund strategic collaborations, shared services, and educational resources that drive long-term efficiencies across the state system; and continue investments in data analytics, digital transformation, and cybersecurity. The budget request also includes capital funding for system and structure upgrades to enhance campus safety and security.
Additional priorities in the upcoming legislative session include universal completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for high school seniors, which has spurred college enrollment increases in other states, and refinements to the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship program, including streamlining high school course requirements for scholarship eligibility; an adjustable formula for income limits each year to increase flexibility for eligible students and families; and an appeal process to assist students facing unique circumstances. Recognized by the Southern Regional Education Board as one of the top promise scholarship programs in the nation, Oklahoma’s Promise is considered a national model that combines emphases on academic preparation and financial support for college. More than 100,000 students have earned college tuition scholarships through Oklahoma’s Promise since the program’s inception.
Eastern sophomore Trent Fronterhouse, an agriculture education major from Gerty, Okla., was chosen to speak and share his higher education experience at the Southeast Oklahoma Legislative Tour.
Chancellor Allison D. Garrett presented the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s 2023 legislative agenda and FY24 budget request to an audience of lawmakers, community leaders and educators at the Southeast Oklahoma Legislative Tour.
Eastern President Dr. Janet Wansick (far left) and OSRHE Chancellor Allison D. Garrett (far right) were joined by Eastern sophomores (l to r) Trent Fronterhouse, Blaken Strawn and Kinley Bratcher at the Southeast Oklahoma Legislative Tour.