OCCC Providing more without raising fees, tuition

As many changes have occurred to how students learn, tuition and fees at OCCC have remained the same as before Covid-19.

To clear up any potential confusion or concern about tuition and fees, Dr. Jeremy L. Thomas, interim president, said that he and the OCCC leadership team are here to help.

“I’m always going to be transparent and open,” Thomas said.

The library, labs, tutoring, WiFi, fitness center, food pantry, security and many others are all still available to students, just as they always were, and they have to be funded, Thomas said. Regardless of the situation, some students utilize services more than others and the fees that everyone pays allows this to happen, he said.

Such fees that all students pay are the facility use fee, student activity fee, security fee, and the electronic media fee which are $14.30, $7.15, $5, and $12 per credit hour respectively. 

Without the fees being raised, the college has been able to increase support for services and even establish new ones, Thomas said. 

From the Information and Instructional Technology Services (laptop checkouts, webcam checkouts, remote support, cloud storage), to the Center for Learning and Teaching (who runs the Moodle platform), and others, the college has managed to not increase fees while still having them be utilized to support the students, he said.

“Though we’d never want it to happen like this, we’ve made significant advances in technology, support, infrastructure and teaching online because of COVID,” Thomas said.

“Before COVID-19, roughly 27 percent of our students were taking all their courses online. A significant number of students took at least one class online in addition to their in-person classes,” Thomas said.

“Now, of course, almost all our classes are online, with only a few exceptions. When classes eventually shift back to in-person, we do expect that more classes will be offered with online options, and we expect more students will take them,” Thomas said.

The approach to shifting fees to where they are needed made it so that the college did not have to adjust the online student fee, rather they were able to scale with other student services, he said. 

“At the same time, we’ve frozen tuition over the last three years and we’ve actually increased our tuition waiver and scholarship opportunities for students,” Thomas said.

“[This approach] ensuring that even as the economy and the pandemic have made it more difficult for some, taking classes at OCCC hasn’t contributed to any new or additional hardships,” Thomas said. 

Commenting on the prospect of future refunds or adjustments, Thomas said that they couldn’t speak in hypotheticals. 

If future shutdowns or other changes occur then they will listen to the board of regents, the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and make the best decisions they can, he said.