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Based on a recent study from the State Chamber Research Foundation, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) leads the State of Oklahoma among two-year colleges in enrolling out-of-state students. The study measured the importance of higher education in Oklahoma to the state’s economic growth as well as the overall effectiveness of the system. With over 21% of the student body coming from out of state, NEO continues to boost Oklahoma’s economy by adding an estimated $12.5 million in new spending each year from out-of-state students. This comes despite state support of higher education dropping to levels similar to the mid-1990s.

 “Public higher education continues to be the engine that drives local, state and regional economies and the most recent Chamber study only confirms that fact,” said Dr. Jeff Hale, NEO President. “This should not come as a surprise to anyone who pays attention to economic development. What is surprising is that for the past decade Oklahoma’s political leadership has largely chosen to disinvest from public higher education. In the past five years, no state in the United States has done more harm to public colleges than Oklahoma. In turn, the damage being done to younger Oklahomans and Oklahoma families will cost the state greatly for years to come!”

On top of the volatility in state funding, two year colleges are particularly susceptible to enrollment fluctuations based on the national economy. As unemployment rises, students largely return to two-year colleges to earn career skills. When the unemployment rate drops, those students move back into the workforce.

To address these issues, NEO has focused on diversification and donor support to ensure stable revenue streams. In the past decade, NEO has increased its Development Foundation Assets to over $7 million, which generates over $150,000 in scholarships each year. Over the next decade, NEO aims to produce a new $1,000,000 endowment in scholarships to support students and stabilize tuition.

In spite of the state appropriations environment, NEO ranks #2 in terms of per-student economic impact to the state by two-year colleges. According to the report, NEO injects nearly $21,000 per enrolled student per year, totaling $58 million in yearly economic impact. NEO sits behind Eastern Oklahoma State College, which generates $22,000 per student with a total economic impact of $47 million.

For more information on the State Chamber Research Foundation Report, visit okresearchfoundation.org, or to support scholarships at NEO, contact Jennifer Walker at Jennifer.hessee@neo.edu or call 918-540-6250.

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