NEO's reduction in state aid for the 2017-2018 school year will be about $480,000, NEO A&M President Dr. Jeff Hale said in a conference call Tuesday.

MIAMI — Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College will make up part of a new budget shortfall with a bump in tuition and a $4 increase in two student fees.

NEO’s reduction in state aid for the 2017-2018 school year will be about $480,000, NEO A&M President Dr. Jeff Hale said in a conference call Tuesday.

“That’s on top of $1.2 million from last year and about $400,000 from the previous year,” he said. “Just in our last three budget cycles alone, we are going to be reduced in state aid by over $2 million.”

To compensate for the newest round of cuts, tuition for the 2017-2018 school year will increase by $5 per credit hour, pushing tuition to between $80 and $85 per credit hour.

Also, technology fees and student activity fees each will be bumped up by $2 per credit hour.

The action must be approved by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education at their meeting next week.

The increases will help make up $250,000, with the remaining $230,000 made up through the use of reserves and carefully monitoring discretionary spendings such as travel, supplies and other means.

The technology fee hike will help defray costs on a $2.5 million fiber optic upgrade and expansion project.

“Our wireless system on campus will be better, more effective and more reliable than ever before,” Hale said. “That is a game-changer. We will have the latest, most high speed, most reliable fiber optic that there is available in the world.”

With the upgrade, some facilities on campus —the Synar Farm and Red Robertson Field — will have wireless Internet capability for the first time.

On the student activity side, the increase will go for the growth of other programs as well as scholarships and travel expenses.

Hale said there would be no additional reduction in staff.

A year ago, about 30 full-time employees lost their jobs because of budget cuts.

By comparison, Oklahoma State has had a 5.5 percent tuition increase while Langston and Connors State College in Warner — like Northeastern A&M, part of the OSU System — had 6.5 percent increases.

For the third year in a row, the state has experienced a budget shortfall, and higher education continues to bear the brunt of the reductions that are taking place.

“Higher education in Oklahoma received a 6.1 percent cut, which may have been the largest, certainly one of the largest, percentage cuts of any agency in Oklahoma,” Hale said. “Last year it certainly had the largest percentage cut, which was around 16 percent. The year before it was 5 or 6 percent.”

When Hale took over as NEO president for the 2008-2009 school year, state funding was $9.7 million and this year it will be $6.7 million.

In a Wintergreen Orchard House report released last week, from 2012 to 2017, no state in the United States has reduced its support to public higher education more than Oklahoma, Hale said.

He said 43 states had increased funding to higher education over that timeframe and seven have had reductions.

“Most of those states that have reduced it are still right around the break-even mark,” Hale said. “I think Oklahoma’s reduction now is around 17 to 18 percent.”

Hale remains positive despite dark clouds that hang over the state because of the ongoing budget woes.

“It’s kinda hard to find the good these days, but we try to stay focused on how to get better,” he said. “That’s why the projects we have ongoing right now remain our focus. We don’t really dwell much on what takes place in Oklahoma City. We are going to figure out how to create a great experience for NEO students. We are going to provide the technology and the facilities that make their college education second to none.

“We are not going to allow ourselves to feel like a victim. We are going to continue to make our college a great place to go to school. I give our people the credit. Our faculty, staff, and students are resilient. They are tough-minded and hard working. They believe in the college.”

Jim Ellis is sports editor of the Miami News-Record. Contact him by phone at 918-542-5508, ext. 3052, or by email at jellis@miaminewsrecord.com. Follow him on Twitter @mnrsportsguy.