Oklahoma Universities Struggle To Graduate Students

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No Oklahoma college or university graduates more than two-thirds of its students, and 80 percent of colleges graduate less than half, according to newly released federal data.

The U.S. Department of Education launched the College Scorecard on Sept. 12 to help prospective students find the schools they’re most likely to graduate from and land a job to pay off their loans. Data is pulled from tax returns, federal financial aid reports and the colleges and universities.

The report shows only 13 out the state’s 46 college and universities with data available exceeded the national graduation rate of about 44 percent.

The state’s flagship institutions, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, had two of the top three six-year graduation rates. Those were 66 percent and 61 percent, respectively.

The two universities are also more expensive than many other public, four-year colleges, but their alumni tend to earn more after graduation. Sooner grads earned an average of $46,600 per year 10 years after graduation, while Cowboy alumni averaged $43,400.

The average annual costs, which are what students pay after accounting for scholarships and financial aid, is $16,526 for the University of Oklahoma and $14,053 for Oklahoma State.

Both universities also have lower rates of students coming from low-income families, a student population that often struggles to graduate on time, if at all. Low income is defined as a family making less than $40,000.

Students attending private and for-profit schools tend to be saddled with the most debt.

Students at Tulsa and Oklahoma City campuses of the University of Phoenix owe an average of $35,500 in federal student loans, the second highest debt load in the state.

Both campuses also have some of the worst graduation rates in the state.
Only 14 percent of students graduate from the Tulsa facility and 16 percent from the Oklahoma City.

The data shows two-year colleges often struggle to get their students into a cap and gown.

Those schools tend to have higher levels of low-income students, who may be juggling taking care of family members, bills and school work, all of which makes it harder to graduate.

The graduation rate only counts first-time, full-time students. That means full-time students who transfer from one college to another count against the graduation rate of the first school they attended. They do not affect the graduation rate of the second school.

Part-time students are not included in graduation rates.

Rose State College and Oklahoma City Community College are tied for the lowest graduation rate among public two-year colleges, at 16 percent.

At Rose State College, 40 percent of students are considered to come from low-income families, compared with 43 percent of students at Oklahoma City Community College.

Degrees of Difference

CollegeTypeAvg. Annual Cost6-year Graduation RateAvg. Salary after 10 yearsAvg. Student DebtLow-Income Students
Bacone CollegePrivate - Religious$14,6358%$30,600$24,39895%
Brown Mackie CollegeFor Profit$19,069NA$25,200$21,59982%
Cameron UniversityPublic$9,10020%$33,900$18,60349%
Carl Albert State CollegePublic$4,61131%$25,900$6,49845%
Connors State CollegePublic$7,84422%$29,800$11,25056%
DeVry UniversityFor Profit$23,009NANA$43,06864%
East Central UniversityPublic$7,32534%$34,500$19,50048%
Eastern Oklahoma State CollegePublic$6,64021%$29,800$12,25019%
Family of Faith CollegePrivate - Religious$16,025NANA$060%
Heritage College - Oklahoma CityFor Profit$18,50961%$20,100$15,33369%
Hillsdale Free Will Baptist CollegePrivate - Religious$16,71146%$33,400$054%
ITT Technical Institute - Oklahoma CityFor Profit$23,52127%$38,400$25,83476%
ITT Technical Institute - TulsaFor Profit$22,69521%$38,400$25,83473%
Langston UniversityPublic$6,40618%$28,400$30,20172%
Mid-America Christian UniversityPrivate - Religious$18,06724%$38,900$27,37558%
Murray State CollegePublic$8,65820%$30,500$17,74963%
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M CollegePublic$9,30524%$28,600$10,90458%
Northeastern State UniversityPublic$6,66830%$35,000$18,47149%
Northern Oklahoma CollegePublic$6,04825%$30,400$9,83528%
Northwestern Oklahoma State UniversityPublic$5,84231%$36,100$15,00042%
Oklahoma Baptist UniversityPrivate - Religious$15,47453%$35,300$24,89633%
Oklahoma Christian UniversityPrivate - Religious$18,73150%$35,600$25,25027%
Oklahoma City Community CollegePublic$6,94416%$33,000$9,75043%
Oklahoma City UniversityPrivate - Religious$25,68159%$39,400$24,16820%
Oklahoma Panhandle State UniversityPublic$11,03422%$34,400$18,15446%
Oklahoma State UniversityPublic$14,05361%$43,400$20,50029%
Oklahoma State University Institute of TechnologyPublic$7,21726%$33,000$12,70038%
Oklahoma Wesleyan UniversityPrivate - Religious$21,26050%$44,000$23,16642%
Oral Roberts UniversityPrivate - Religious$21,25852%$34,900$27,00044%
Platt College - North Oklahoma CityFor Profit$21,79360%$20,600$12,00080%
Redlands Community CollegePublic$4,99926%$33,000$9,52833%
Rogers State UniversityPublic$12,25619%$32,600$19,00047%
Rose State CollegePublic$8,00516%$31,400$10,25040%
Seminole State CollegePublic$9,04727%$28,000$11,75044%
Southeastern Oklahoma State UniversityPublic$7,84830%$34,300$16,44348%
Southern Nazarene UniversityPrivate - Religious$18,42844%$45,800$18,75054%
Southwestern Christian UniversityPrivate - Religious$20,15123%$28,200$23,31665%
Southwestern CollegePrivate - Religious$21,20152%$44,200$25,35036%
Southwestern Oklahoma State UniversityPublic$10,27235%$37,000$16,75939%
St. Gregory's UniversityPrivate - Religious$14,79125%$38,200$25,25042%
Tulsa Community CollegePublic$6,57617%$31,200$11,49441%
University of Central OklahomaPublic$11,23234%$38,400$22,25035%
University of OklahomaPublic$16,52666%$46,600$20,00025%
University of Phoenix-Oklahoma CityFor Profit$17,40316%$53,400$35,50074%
University of Phoenix-TulsaFor Profit$20,39414%$53,400$35,50069%
University of Science and Arts of OklahomaPublic$7,95639%$30,700$19,59246%
University of TulsaPrivate - Religious$25,70267%$43,200$25,00016%
Vatterott College - Oklahoma CityFor Profit$17,58158%NA$22,1554400%
Western Oklahoma State CollegePublic$5,73027%$31,100$9,00013%
Graduation rates, average income and student debt loads vary between college and universities across Oklahoma. Use this table to see how the state's public, private and for-profit institutions compare.
  • Jan P. Gaddis

    It is imperative that all remedial courses be removed from the curricula. If a student is deficient , he should be responsible to get himself up to the academic standard of the institution of higher education. This self remedial period of time will sift out those that desire to go to college and those that are there for reasons unrelated to academics. There must be some high standard of academic excellence that is met by students or the degree is meaningless.

  • Steven Maier

    It’s unfortunate the analysis doesn’t fully control for students who transfer, remaining in a college/university program elsewhere in the state and completing a degree at a different institution. Institutions with standout preparatory programs are penalized two-fold: a demerit in the 6-year graduation statistics for losing students followed by a reduction in the average graduate salary after 10 years. In a time when transfer fluidity among programs at institutions is celebrated and essentially mandated by students, the public and governing agencies, it seems the analyses should follow suit with more attention to detail.

  • Mark Kinders

    Relying on the White House College Scorecard to grade Oklahoma institutions is a mistake. As USDE Education Secretary Arne Carlson said at the roll-out, this is a work in progress. The major flaw is the IPEDS database for student achievement. It gathers data from 4,000 higher education institutions, which is no small task, and attempts to set performance standards. Unfortunately, it tracks student success on a methodology that is 30 years out of data for Oklahoma. It only measure first-time, full-time freshmen who enroll directly out of high school. Nationally, some 70 percent of high school graduates go on to higher education. That is far from the case in Oklahoma. So that’s the flaw: first-time, full-time freshmen. This doesn’t count the 17 percent of OK high school grads who “drop out” for a years, or students who enroll part-time, are returning students, or who enroll in the spring, summer, or interim, or who transfer and graduate at another institution. A more accurate metric is through the Voluntary System of Accountability, which tracks how students churn through higher education. 500 higher education institutions use this measurement tool; so should the White House College Scorecard.