Board committee votes to adopt recommended tuition and fee rates

The Finance and Facilities Committee (FFC) of the UO’s Board of Trustees today voted to adopt 2015–16 tuition and fee rates recommended by the university’s Tuition and Fee Advisory Board (TFAB), as well as the president and provost.

The recommendation included a 3.7 percent increase in tuition and fees for both resident and nonresident students, which equates to roughly $370 for resident students. When looking at just tuition, the increase is 3.7 percent for residents and 3.8 percent for nonresidents.

“This is one of the most important things we do as a board, and one of the most difficult. Increasing tuition is never the goal, but as a board we have to take into consideration the entire financial picture and stability of the university,” said Trustee Connie Ballmer.

The TFAB prepared its recommendation after a process that included six months of on campus meetings open to the media and public. TFAB members, including students, faculty, staff, and budgeting and financial experts conducted extensive analysis of data for both UO and peer institutions. The analysis looked at cost structures, cost pressures, tuition benchmarks and historical trends.

In addition, the university worked with the university’s student government (ASUO) to share information and hold public input opportunities before sending its recommendation to the committee.

“I appreciate that student leaders and the student trustee participated actively in the discussion regarding tuition. Their comments were appreciated, heard and respected. Ultimately, though, it was appropriate to adopt the tuition board’s sound and well-vetted recommendations,” said Committee Chair Ross Kari.

“No one wants to raise tuition, and we know students will be frustrated with the vote. Frankly, I’m frustrated too, but frustration doesn’t change the financial realities and pressures facing the UO,” said Trustee Joe Gonyea. “Substantial increases in retirement and benefit costs (which the university doesn’t control), uncertain increases in employee costs due to current bargaining and a desire to increase services and offerings to students all play a role in this decision.”

The FFC’s recommendation is before the full Board of Trustees during today’s meeting for final approval. If approved, the new tuition rates will take effect in the 2015–16 academic year.

“This is a pivotal time for the University of Oregon,” said Board Chair Chuck Lillis. “The harsh reality is that years of decreased state investment and rising costs have put the school in a tenuous financial situation. Every day, we try to figure out how to find financial efficiencies and savings and ways to improve financial aid to students. At the same time, we have to think about serious strategic investments that can continue to improve the academic quality of the university. The access, excellence and experience we strive to provide students is critical to our mission, but it results in rising costs and, therefore, periodic considerations of changes to tuition.”

—By Tobin J. Klinger, Public Affairs Communications