Who sets your tuition and fees?

In its December meeting, the University of Oregon Board of Trustees passed a resolution on how the university sets tuition and fees. Although the UO has an independent governing board instead of a state governing board, few changes have been made.

“There really is very little difference in the overall process from previous years except that the approval authority stops with the board rather than the State Board of Higher Education,” Board of Trustees Secretary Angela Wilhelms said. “The same level of student engagement through the advisory group and student forums exists as it did before, as does the authority to appeal.”

The Board of Trustees is responsible for creating the process that determines tuition and mandatory fees and to ultimately approve the final recommendations. The board is currently scheduled to review tuition and fees recommendations during its next meeting in March.

The first step in the process laid out by the board is an advisory group assembled by the president that will consider historical tuition and fee trends, comparative peer institution data, the university’s budget, projected cost increases and anticipated funding from the state.

The Tuition and Fees Advisory Committee met Tues., Jan. 13 in Johnson hall to do that.

“I’m coming to the table trying to lobby for the lowest tuition increases and finding ways to make sure that the university can function at the lowest tuition increase,” ASUO President Beatriz Gutierrez said. “One of the things that I want to keep in mind is what does it take to keep up the quality of the university?”

Gutierrez is one of four students on the committee. The bulk of the committee members are administrators such as deans, provosts, etc. When asked if she thought the student voice is being heard in the meetings, Gutierrez wasn’t confident.

“Coming without a background in accounting you can’t really understand things and you don’t even know what questions to ask sometimes,” Gutierrez said.

At the meeting committee members received two separate spreadsheets of projected and actual revenues and costs for the 2015 year.

Included in the figures are five different tuition increase scenarios ranging from 3-4.9 percent increases for resident students, and 2-4 percent increases for non-resident students. The reason that the proposed tuition increases for non-resident tuition is lower than that of resident students is because non-residents already pay more than residents. For example in the proposed tuition increases, the lowest proposed increase in tuition for resident students is 3 percent which would bring the price per student credit hour to $5.46 where the lowest tuition increase of 2 percent for non-resident students make the price per student credit hour $12.96.

In the meeting Jamie Moffitt, the vice president for finance and administration and co-chair of the committee, addressed tuition and fees as the university’s main source of educational and general funds, state support is small. Gutierrez hopes to put pressure on the Oregon legislature to increase investment in higher education and have a rally in Salem in February.

Also included in the Board of Trustee’s resolution is that the president will hold a student forum, provide an opportunity for public comment and submit final recommendations to the board.

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Alexandra Wallachy

Alexandra Wallachy

Alex is a head correspondent at the Emerald focusing on higher education and student government. She is also a producer for the Emerald Podcast Network and a huge fan of the Daily Show.