Trustees to address tuition proposal at March meeting

UO Board of Trustees 2016

The Board of Trustees of the University of Oregon is expected to consider a tuition and fee plan for the next academic year at their regular meeting March 2-3.

Trustees will review a tuition and fee proposal that includes an increase of $21 per credit hour, or $945 per year, for undergraduate students. The increase works out to a 10.6 percent rise for in-state undergraduate students and a 3 percent increase for out-of-state undergraduate students.

The tuition proposal for the 2017-18 academic year was adopted by President Michael H. Schill from recommendations developed by the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board, a group of students, faculty, administrators and staff.

“Insufficient state funding has left the university and its trustees with little choice but to consider such significant tuition increases as well as painful cuts to our staff and services,” Schill said. “Only four states in the nation provide less funding per student for higher education than Oregon, which has severely impacted the affordability and accessibility of a college degree in this state.”

The proposed state budget, combined with significant cost drivers outside the university’s control, leave the UO anticipating a $27.5 million budget gap for next year. Even with the proposed tuition increases, the university will still need to close an $8.8 million recurring gap in the budget. A group of faculty, administrators and students already is working to identify new revenue streams or budget reductions.

“The UO’s tuition plan must maintain and accelerate our excellence in teaching and research so we can continue to deliver a high-quality education to our students,” Schill said. “Unfortunately, tuition increases and budget cuts are unavoidable if we want to maintain these priorities in the face of more than two decades of public disinvestment in higher education.”

The proposed tuition plan, however, is conditional and the university could lower tuition if the state provides increased funding for higher education.

Oregon’s seven public universities have requested $100 million in additional funding to protect vital student services and financial aid. If this funding request is met, the UO could limit the tuition increase to about 5 percent.

The tuition proposal that trustees will consider estimates that each $20 million increment in increased state funding for public higher education would allow the UO to reduce the proposed resident undergraduate tuition increase by roughly 1 percentage point. Increases in state support also would reduce some of the operating cuts that would be needed in the coming year.

“There is still hope that we can avoid raising tuition by more than 10 percent,” Schill said. “University leaders, including our faculty and ASUO, are working tirelessly to advocate for increased funding for higher education so we can make the cost of a college degree more affordable for students and their families.”

On Friday, the board will also receive a series of updates on issues and trends with the federal government, the energy and sustainable materials cluster of excellence and the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.

Complete agendas and support materials are available on the board website.