- Associated Press - Thursday, November 6, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The board that oversees Oklahoma’s 25 colleges and universities approved a budget request on Thursday for more than $1 billion for the upcoming fiscal year- an increase of nearly $100 million from the current year’s budget.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved the $1.08 billion budget request during its regular meeting in Oklahoma City. The bulk of the new funding, about $88 million, would go toward the state’s Complete College America program, which seeks to boost the number of students in the state who receive a college degree or job certification.

“We have exceeded our Complete College America degree completion goals to date, and we know that meeting our ultimate degree completion goal will be a marathon, not a sprint,” Chancellor Glen Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson said in the first two years of the initiative, the number of degrees and certificates earned by students each year in Oklahoma increased from 30,500 in 2011 to 37,022 in 2013. The overall goal is to increase that number to more than 50,000 by 2023.

Most of the additional money would be used to help state colleges and universities develop campus-based degree completion programs and to pay for extra courses, faculty and financial aid, among other things.

The regents also want $8.7 million for debt service payments.

Among the items on the regents’ 2015 legislative agenda is to oppose any bill to allow firearms on college campuses.

More than a dozen university presidents attended a legislative hearing on the issue last month and voiced their opposition to any such proposal.

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