Tuition forum let students learn about rising tuition, vent frustrations

The ASUO hosted an open student forum on Tuesday concerning tuition and fees in the EMU Ballroom of the University of Oregon.

The forum was intended to invite student input about tuition-related issues. It included a presentation of budget and cost information about UO, as well as miniature discussions where students could voice any concerns or questions they had to members of the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board. Several students addressed their difficulties with paying for tuition and their frustration at the possibility of the cost rising further.

For many students at UO, paying for college is a common issue. Sometimes students are forced to make difficult decisions in order to be able to afford an education.

“I have to choose between my meal and my textbooks,” said junior Hoa Trinh, an international student.

Raises in tuition further complicate the problem.

Last year, the tuition rate for residents was originally raised by 10.6 percent, before being lowered to 6.56 percent in July. For the 2017-18 school year, the combined cost of tuition and fees amounts to $11,571 for resident students. For nonresidents, the amount goes up to $34,611, and for international students, the amount is slightly higher still, sitting at $35,211.

“[If tuition increases again], it is gonna be more difficult on my family,” freshman Katie Quines said. “I basically have just enough with the loans that I have right now that we can put towards it and with my scholarship to break even now. With tuition hikes, I don’t think I could afford it. I think I would have to take out another loan.”

“Not everyone comes from a middle-class family [that] can support them through tuition increases,” said junior Skye Elder. Elder is a first-generation college student who relies mostly on financial aid and is on the cusp of not being able to afford education at UO.

The three major funding streams for UO are state appropriation, or how the state legislature gives money to the university, resident tuition and nonresident tuition. 80 percent of UO’s funding comes from tuition.

Over 80 percent of UO’s budget is invested in people, according to Jamie Moffitt, a member of the TFAB Board and the Vice President for Finance and Administration and CFO for UO.

Vice President for Finance and Administration Jamie Moffitt leads a student forum on tuition and fees, held in the EMU Ballroom in Eugene, Ore. on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (Adam Eberhardt/Emerald)

The wages of faculty, staff and graduate students is one of the major costs in the university’s budget, along with institutional expenses. The cost of wages is predicted to increase by $10.8 million for the fiscal year 2018-19. The cost of institutional expenses is expected to increase by $600,000.

Part of the reason that tuition for this year is so high is because of a drop in state funding.

UO receives less state support per full-time equivalent student than other schools that are part of the Association of American Universities receive. During the 2014 fiscal year, UO received only $2,079 per student. Other universities such as Iowa State University and UCLA, however, received upwards of $5,000.

“State funding has gone down for lots of reasons,” Senior Director of State Relations Libby Batlan said. “Starting in fiscal year 08 with the recession that happened, the state’s budget took a big hit, and that’s where you start to see decrease in funding to public universities.”

The rate of tuition for next school year will not be determined until March, when the UO Board of Trustees meets between March 1 and 2, and will be determined in part by the amount of state funding UO receives.

“We obviously want to keep all tuition as low as possible,” said Moffitt.

Other than the public forum, several other opportunities exist for students to have their opinion and situation heard concerning tuition increases.

Another open forum will occur sometime in February, according to Schenk. UO Provost Jayanth Banavar will attend that forum. Students also have the chance to talk to state representatives in Salem on Feb. 15 and lobby for the university.

Students also can attend the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board meetings. A full schedule of these meetings can be found here.

“I just want to be able to come here next year,” Elder said.

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Kylie Storm

Kylie Storm