The modern Land-Grant university harnesses a wind that blew open the doors of higher education in the last century — driving accessibility and distributing opportunity based on ability and effort rather than affluence or birthright. Since the start of the 20th Century, higher education has proven a key to economic progress for generations of Americans. A college degree can be a path out of poverty and into prosperity, particularly for individuals born into low-income families. Broad access to higher education is a central tenet in promoting the social mobility that remains a distinctive characteristic of our national identity. However, decades of diminishing public funding and costs of operation across the landscape of higher education mean that access is out of reach for an increasing number of prospective students and their families. In response, Oklahoma State University aims not only to honor the Land-Grant commitment to access but to redouble its efforts to extend access as broadly as practicable.
In order to expand access, and in accordance with its Land-Grant mission, OSU will:
Enroll a minimum of 5,000 new first-year students by the fall of 2026 at the Stillwater campus
Objective 1: Recruit an increasing number of college-ready undergraduate students.
Given its broad understanding of access – and as a means of extending the breadth of its service to the state and nation – Oklahoma State University intends to strategically increase enrollment across its system by fully resourcing its enrollment management function. With the state’s production of degree-holding citizens a stark 25% behind the national average, the dearth of college-prepared graduates threatens Oklahoma’s current workforce vitality and jeopardizes future economic prospects. OSU intends to meet this critical State need by increasing its overall student enrollment and leveraging all four of its undergraduate degree-granting campuses – Stillwater, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Okmulgee – and the Center for Health Sciences, growing enrollment, particularly in Oklahoma’s high-demand professions, as appropriate at each location. As a common, recognizable metric, OSU will use the Stillwater enrollment number as its measure of progress while pursuing growth across all its campus locations.
Objective 2: Increase scholarship support to new students.
To increase enrollment from every rural corner of our 77 counties to the urban corridors of the State’s major cities and beyond, OSU will establish its broadest-reaching, most comprehensive initiative to date for providing flexible, timely financial support in the form of scholarships to help incoming first-year and transfer students to matriculate at the University. Constituted in a newly-created, University-wide initiative, support will span every school and will touch the entire Oklahoma State University system, meeting needs irrespective of college affiliation or major.
Objective 3: Create a university “Front Door.”
To provide a central location for welcoming incoming students and preparing them for lives as active and contributing alumni, OSU will create a state-of-the-art, technologically-enabled facility to serve as a launching point for a Cowboy future and to house essential functions related to recruitment and retention.
1 For instance, a student born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution
(or the lowest quintile) has a 45 percent chance of remaining there as an adult if
he or she does not have a college degree. In contrast, individuals born into the lowest
quintile who do obtain a college degree have only a 16 percent chance of remaining
there later in life. Brookings Institution, June 21, 2013.
2 Between 1980 and 2020, the average cost for tuition, fees, room and board for an undergraduate degree increased 169%. Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce.