University of Oregon tuition increases approved despite student criticism

A tuition increase for University of Oregon students was approved by the Finance and Facilities Committee on March 4.

The committee met at 2:30 p.m. in the Ford Alumni Center to discuss budget, tuition and fees, finances and investments. The committee began the session by approving minutes from December 2014, followed by public comment from four of the five UO students who attended the meeting. They waited in the back of the room and one student held a sign reading, “Tuition Freeze Now.”

GTF Dana Ronglie began, saying that she watched her students struggle to keep up in the classes she teaches because they are working so hard to try and pay for school.

“It is very difficult for me to fulfill my aspect of the mission of this university when my students cannot put in the time or the effort for my class,” Ronglie said.

Another student, Jake Rutledge spoke of his friend Lillian Huebner, who is now homeless and in debt after being unable to continue taking classes due to the cost of tuition.

Student Labor Action Project Co-director Colin Worley spoke of his gratitude for being awarded the Pathway scholarship and the need for affordable higher education.

“The day that I found out I got the scholarship was easily the happiest day of my life,” Worley said. “Because without this scholarship there would be no way that I would be attending this university and that’s honestly unacceptable.”

Worley also called for increased student involvement in the tuition-deciding process.

“These decisions ultimately affect us as students, they do not affect the Board of Trustees and as such, students need to have an actual voice in deciding this process,” Worley said.

ASUO President Beatriz Gutierrez spoke last, recalling her experience as a student on the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board as intimidating and said that the students she represents cannot handle a raise in tuition.

“Their stories aren’t here because they’re in class,” Gutierrez said. “They have to be in class and they have to be at work, and just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not here on your campus.”

Following public comment, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Finance and Administration Jamie Moffitt then explained the quarterly financial report. According to Moffitt, the “big picture” was that the budget was tighter than expected. Moffitt highlighted state funding low, about 82 percent of this budget paid by tuition and fees. At this point the students who spoke during public comment left the meeting.

The committee moved onto addressing 2015-2016 tuition and fees. Moffitt began with an overview of tuition and fees. Vice Provost for Budget and Planning Brad Shelton explained that 10 percent of academic year tuition is set aside to be used for financial aid funded by the institution. According to Shelton, this year that was about $30 million.

Shelton and Moffitt went on to show the tuition and fee recommendations for 2015-2016. Both Shelton and Moffitt are co-chairs of the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board. The proposed undergraduate rate increases would generate approximately $10.4 million a year.

Undergraduate Tuition Proposed Increases:

  • Resident Tuition: 3.8 percent increase
  • Nonresident Tuition: 3.7 percent increase
  • Honors College Differential: 3.7 percent increase
  • Mandatory Fees: 3.2 percent increase

Interim President Scott Coltrane called the raise an “unfortunate situation” and student member of the Board of Trustees Helena Schlegel spoke before the resolution was passed, expressing her disapproval of the proposed tuition raises. Ultimately, the committee moved to approve the proposed tuition changes for next year. The Board of Trustees will address these changes on March 5 during its next meeting.

Follow Francesca Fontana on Twitter @francescamarief

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Francesca Fontana

Francesca Fontana

Francesca is the associate news editor for community news.
She worked as The Register-Guard's 2015 Snowden Intern, and studies journalism and economics.