University of Oregon students will pay 5.8 percent more in tuition next year

The Oregon State Board of Higher Education today approved the University of Oregon’s request to raise tuition by 5.8 percent beginning fall term, confirmed Oregon University System spokesperson Diane Saunders.

“It’s a Sophie’s Choice,” she said in a phone interview with the Emerald, explaining that had tuition remained at its current rate, services and faculty at Oregon’s seven public universities would have faced cuts.

Saunders also said that, with an additional $50 million on top of the $744 million budget the Oregon Legislature approved earlier this week, the board would have been able to freeze tuition for resident undergraduate students.

During its meeting today, the board approved a 5 percent increase for all seven public universities, 10-3. Full-time students can expect to pay approximately $542 more per year (PDF). That’s based on a 15-credit, three-term year for a resident undergraduate. The increases were approved despite the Oregon House of Representatives approving additional funding for the state’s colleges and universities earlier this week.

Lamar Wise, former Senate president and a candidate for ASUO president during the most recent election, testified against the tuition increase with a handful of students from the UO. He related his struggles paying for his education — Wise spent some time couchsurfing to make ends meet and at times was unsure he’d be able to continue with his education at all.

“Tuition, currently, is pricing out students,” he said, adding that the increases will keep even more folks from enrolling.

State support for higher education has decreased steadily for the last 20 years. The Legislature once provided approximately 70 percent of the funding for Oregon’s colleges and universities while tuition covered the remaining 30 percent. Those numbers have since switched, with students footing the majority of the bill. Saunders said that since then, the OUS receives $100 million less from the state, yet enrollment in its institutions has increased by 34,000.

“That’s like adding another Portland State and Oregon Tech,” she said. “That’s the problem we’re facing.”

The three board members who opposed the increase are Brianna Coulombe, an Eastern Oregon University student, Farbodd Ganjifard, an Oregon State University student and Emily Plec, a communications studies professor at Western Oregon University.

In the end, for students like Wise it boils down to the investment they’re making in their future.

“I want to have a career where I can have a family and a stable income to provide for that family,” he said.

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Eder Campuzano

Eder Campuzano

Eder is the Emerald's director of audience engagement. His work has appeared in The Oregonian, The Statesman Journal and the News-Register in McMinnville. He was also a founding member of the University of Oregon's competitive Pokémon league.