Students voice concern over tuition and fees increases ahead of board consideration
Tuition and fees are on the rise again after Brad Shelton of the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board announced the group’s recommendations for the 2015-2016 year to an open forum of students in Lawrence Hall on Mon., Feb. 16.
The board recommended that resident tuition increase by 3.8 percent and nonresident tuition to increase by 3.7 percent.
Proposed increases in undergraduate tuition that are higher than 5 percent require approval from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
Shelton also announced a $10 increase in student fees, from $360.75 to $370.75.
These changes would raise the cost of a student’s credit hour by $7 for residents and $24 for nonresidents. In 2015-2016, the cost of attending UO full-time (45 credits a year) would increase by $315 for residents and $1,080 for nonresidents.
Shelton explained that there would be two increases in costs mandated by the state: a $3.5 million increase in retirement costs and $2.5 million increase in employee health care.
Many students in the audience, including students, members of SLAP, SEIU, LESS-T and the GTFF were displeased with the recommendations. Some held signs that read the salaries for various members of the administration.
One student in the crowd proposed lowering administration salaries, saying that the president of the university earns a higher salary of $440,000, which is more than the president of the Unites States, who earns $400,000 per year in comparison.
Lillian Huebner told her story of being “priced out” as a sophomore nonresident. Huebner couldn’t enroll in classes this term, and therefore, could not live in the dorms. She lived with friends and called herself “homeless.”
When it comes to nonresident tuition, Shelton said the UO’s rates run in the middle of the pack among its peer institutions.
“I think this will leave us right at the median because I expect all the other schools to be going up as well,” Shelton said. “California schools have said they’re going up 5 percent and that’s one of the main places where we draw non-resident students is from California.”
Another concern is the racial background of the students that may not be able to afford attending the university with these increases.
“We have looked pretty carefully at the tuition charges at our peer universities,” Shelton said. “What we know is that for resident tuition, we’re actually on the low side of tuition.”
Some students called for an impact study to determine the toll that tuition raises would take on different groups. According to Shelton, there are no plans to conduct one.
Shelton said he couldn’t release changes to the incidental fee as they were not yet known at this time. Graduate student tuition changes were not released because according to Shelton there are over 30 different graduate tuition schedules.
“It is in the materials that are being prepared for the [board of trustees],” Shelton said. “We just didn’t want to put it up here because it’s mind-boggling how much there is.”
One student called that choice “patronizing.” Many students expressed frustration that because this was the only venue where they could voice opinions about the proposed changes in tuition and fees, all of the information had not been provided.
The recommendation given by the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board will inform the president and provost before the recommendation goes to the board of trustees in March. Trustee Kurt Willcox was in attendance, and invited students to bring their thoughts to the board meeting on March 5 and 6.
Follow Francesca Fontana on Twitter: @francescamarief