UO tuition hike approved.
SALEM - In-state tuition at the University of Oregon will be going up next school year by double digits.
In a reversal of a decision from earlier this month, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission voted 7-1 Thursday to approve a 10.6 percent resident tuition increase at the UO. The university had asked the commission to reconsider its previous rejection of the tuition hike proposal, warning of more budget cuts without more money from students.
"We now will have the revenue to avoid making real calamitous cuts," UO President Michael Schill said just after the meeting. The special meeting was the first in the commission's brief history, and it drew about 45 people to a state conference room in Salem.
The UO's tuition also will go up 3 percent for nonresidents - for a total of $945 more next school year for both resident and nonresident students. With the increase, total tuition and fees to attend UO in 2017-18 will be $11,931 for in-state students and $34,611 for out-of-state students.
Schill led a panel of university leaders who argued for the tuition increase. Raising tuition is a way to avoid cutting more student services, educators and programs, he said.
"I know all of us would not like to be faced with the choices we have today," Schill told the commission. UO students also addressed the commissioners, asking them again to reject the tuition increase proposal and keep student costs down.
The only commission member to again vote against the increase Thursday was Terry Cross, a senior advisor of the National Indian Child Welfare Association, a policy and advocacy organization for Indian children and their families.
A couple of the commissioners who voted against UO's tuition increase earlier this month, including Commissioner Larry Roper, said they changed their vote Thursday because of what students stood to lose with budget cuts. "Those students who are vulnerable would be made more vulnerable," he said while taking part in the meeting by phone.
Most of the money - about 80 percent - of what the UO spends on education each year comes from tuition, according to the university. Without the tuition increase, UO leaders said university officials would be forced to make $6 million in budget cuts for 2017-18. Already planned are cuts amounting to $8.5 million. Cuts next school year would have totaled $14.5 million with no increase in tuition, according to the UO.
Since 2013, state law has required the commission, which began in 2011, to approve any resident tuition increase of more than 5 percent at any of Oregon's seven public universities.
Along with the UO tuition hike, the commission Thursday approved a 8.3 percent increase for in-state tuition at Portland State University - a request that it also initially had rejected earlier this month.
The commission previously approved tuition increases of about 10 percent at Western Oregon University, 12 percent at Southern Oregon University, and 8 percent at the Oregon Institute of Technology.
Oregon State University and Eastern Oregon University will raise in-state tuition by less than 5 percent, with increases of about 4 percent each.
When the commission rejected the UO's and PSU's proposals on May 11, commissioners said it did so in part because the universities failed to involved students enough in the evaluation of tuition increases. It was the first time the commission had rejected tuition increase proposals.
Making UO and PSU return and restate why they planned to raise tuition made a point, Commissioner Ramon Ramirez said. He had voted against the proposals earlier this month, but he changed his vote Thursday.
"I think this sent a message to universities that you all need to improve the way you reach out to students," he said.
The UO students who spoke to the commission during a public comment session before its votes included Gaby Gardiner, who asked the commission to deny the UO's tuition increase proposal again.
Tuition at UO already has been steadily increasing in recent years, Gardiner said, and the 10.6 percent hike is "way too exponential." University students already have to choose among paying for their education, rent or food, Gardiner added.
"I've had too many of my friends drop out of the university because of tuition increases," Gardiner said.
Celena Simpson, an academic advisor at the UO, spoke in favor of the tuition increase. She said she did so because the potential budget cuts at UO would have done more harm to students than seeing their tuition bill go up.
"This is not an easy decision, and the situation is deeply complicated," she said.
Despite pleas from students to not increase the cost of attending the UO, the university's Board of Trustees overwhelmingly voted in favor - 12-1 - to raise the tuition in March. But the commission had to approve the UO's plan before it could go into effect.
If blocked for a second time by the commission, the UO might have pursued a tuition increase directly from lawmakers.
After the meeting, Schill was pleased enough by the commission's decision to suggest buying a round of soft-serve ice cream, but he said UO leaders "still have a job to do" in deciding over the next month and a half how to trim the budget for the next school year.
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|Title Annotation:||University Of Oregon; A state commission reverses course and grants the university a 10.6 percent tuition increase for residents|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||May 26, 2017|
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