The University of Oregon Board of Trustees, minus three who could not be present at the meeting, unanimously approved to reduce the amount in-state undergraduate students will pay next year.
The Board approved a 10.6 percent increase in March as a result of no increased state funding for higher education. But with the approval of Senate Bill 5524, the Board was able to change course. In-state students will pay $13 more per credit hour next year as opposed to the $21 per credit hour set forth in the original increase.
A reduction plan that was included with the Board’s original decision laid out a path to lowering tuition based on state funding. The plan was based on $20 million increments — for every $20 million the Public University Support Fund (PUSF) received, tuition would be reduced 1 percent.
The original Governor’s Recommended Budget (GRB) allocated $667 million to the PUSF. The new senate bill increases that amount by $70 million, to $737 million.
Because the PUSF level doesn’t fit into the $20 million increment formula provided by the Board, tuition will increase 6.56 percent next year — in line with the formula and requirement laid out in the bill.
Board Chair, Chuck Lillis, started the meeting by recognizing the efforts made by members of the Board and students advocating for lower tuition in Salem.
In his opening statement, UO President Michael Schill said he was delighted that the state legislature provided the additional $20 million but there are still battles the university must face.
“Even though we got the tuition down to 6.56 percent, we haven’t solved the problem,” he said.
As state funding levels increase, university spending cuts will decrease. Schill said that substantial cuts will be made, in addition to the $4.5 million made earlier this year, but the number had fallen. He said the exact number has not been determined. It is likely the scope of the cuts will be determined this summer.
“We are in an uncertain world because we don’t know our tuition revenue yet,” Schill said. “We have to do our best to estimate what the amount of those cuts are, but they’re substantial and we will have to make those decisions.”
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