Public comment period opens on tuition and fee rates

The University of Oregon has opened public comment on the proposed tuition and fee structure for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

“The University of Oregon is singularly focused on achieving excellence, and this tuition plan reflects that focus and the steps this campus is taking toward furthering our priorities,” President Michael H. Schill said. “Our tuition rate for resident undergraduate students remains below that of peer research institutions nationally and continues to position UO as an excellent value for Oregon students and families.

“When paired with our internal effort to realign budgets with strategic priorities, tuition dollars will help fuel UO’s pursuit of excellence in the classroom, the research lab and in the experience our students have every day,” Schill added. “I do not contemplate making this recommendation lightly, but we owe it to the students of this university and the state of Oregon to do what is necessary to maintain and grow the academic and research stature of this school.”

The proposal comes following the work of the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board, a body that examined and gave feedback on a wide swath of tuition- and fee-related issues, including the university’s many cost drivers, course fees, housing fees, mandatory fees and a guaranteed tuition concept. Schill has formally accepted TFAB’s tuition and fee recommendation.

“Simply put, costs are going up and public disinvestment in higher education has shifted the financial burden of paying for the cost of higher education to students and families,” said Scott Coltrane, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “If we are to continue to maintain and enhance the overall value of a University of Oregon degree, we must apply resources in strategic ways that will bring the greatest benefit.”

Revenue generated from tuition will be used to fund essential investments, including an additional $1.4 million in financial aid, $2.75 million for information technology improvements, $2.5 million for faculty hiring, $2.2 million for medical costs, $400,000 for graduate student fellowships, and $7.6 million for negotiated salary increases for faculty and staff.

An estimated additional $3 million in redirected funds, currently being identified by administrative divisions, would also be reinvested into these areas, including efforts to improve graduation rates. The university is targeting $17 million toward increasing four-year graduation rates 10 percent over the next five years.

“The university is fully committed to finding ways to work with students to expedite time to graduation and to making sure that all available financial aid resources are utilized,” Schill said. “The actual cost of tuition increases pales in comparison to the cost of attending college for a fifth or sixth year.”

These investments are designed not only to keep costs for students down by not having to pay for another year or two of college, but also to benefit students in the long term, as research shows that students who do not graduate are more than three times more likely to default on their student loans. 

The tuition plan includes continued significant support for scholarships and financial aid. More than 60 percent of UO students receive some kind of financial aid, depending on individual circumstances.

This includes 2,000 Pell Grant-eligible PathwayOregon students, who have their tuition and fees fully covered as part of the program. Their PathwayOregon scholarships would increase to cover the additional cost.

The public comment period will end at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19. Once concluded, the feedback will be considered and a final proposal will be shared with the Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon for consideration in March.

—By Tobin J. Klinger, University Communications