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Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education System, U.S. Department of Education.

It’s well known that college tuition and student debt rose steeply in Oklahoma over the past decade. But less familiar is how that trend has played out at individual colleges and types of schools.

The interactive graphic above adds clarity to the picture.

In the chart, each circle represents a school, is sized by enrollment and is colored by type of college – public, nonprofit or for-profit.

To see how much tuition and fees for first-time resident undergraduates has risen from 1999-2000 to 2010-2011, move the slider tab from left to right. The impact of those growing costs also is traced by the circles’ vertical movement, showing the average amount of federal loans taken out by each student that year. A pop-up window for each school displays the numbers, plus the most recent percentage of students taking out loans and the loan default rate.

Among the trends evident in the graphic:

* Tuition and fees at the largest universities, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, increased at a faster pace than at most other colleges. The main reason, officials have said, is the decline in state funding for higher education.

* Among a sampling of for-profit schools, student loan amounts rose sharply in recent years.

* Nonprofit schools remain the most expensive to attend, with the priciest being the University of Tulsa and Oklahoma City University.

* Students at Langston University, the state’s only historically Black college, took out the highest amount of loans on average among all public universities in recent years. In 2010-2011, the amount was $7,742.

* Rogers State University, a regional college in northeastern Oklahoma, experienced some of the largest increases in both tuition costs and student debt. Tuition more than tripled, and loan amounts nearly quadrupled.

* The most expensive schools generally had higher percentages of students who took out federal loans. All or nearly all students at the for-profit schools took out loans. The priciest nonprofit schools, as well as OU and OSU, tended to have low default rates.

The overall takeaway is a familiar lament heard from many  corners: The cost of a college education has become burdensome for many families and often means a long road of paying off five-figure debt. Still, research shows that those with a college degree on average earn far more over their lifetimes than those with a high school diploma or less.

In view of the costs, the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents recently approved a proposal not to raise tuition and fees for resident undergraduates at Oklahoma State University in 2013-2014. The board did approve increases at several small colleges. The OU Board of Regents approved a plan to not increase tuition next year and to implement a flat tuition-and-fees rate for students taking from 12 to 21 credit hours per semester.

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