Students and ASUO executives debate four year tuition plan

(Cole Elsasser/Emerald)

The Tuition and Fees Advisory Board is developing a guaranteed tuition plan that would set a tuition increase amount for the next four years, instead of annually raising tuition.

Nov. 30, TFAB members are holding a second forum for students to give opinions on the proposal before the Board of Trustees decide on whether or not to pursue set tuition increases in December.

The first forum, held on Oct. 28, revealed concerns that some students had with the plan.

After the board presented the proposal, students spent an hour asking questions and making suggestions for fixing a tuition increase.

Jamie Moffitt, University of Oregon Vice President for Finance and Administration, said that the guaranteed tuition plan would increase tuition eight to 10 percent in order to cover the costs of not increasing tuition every year.

Moffitt also said that under the current system, tuition has had an average increase of five to six percent over the past 10 years, which makes the recent increases lower in comparison. This year’s tuition increase was 3.7 percent.

Moffitt says that a higher, fixed increase in tuition could cause “sticker shock,” and scare away potential applicants.

Several students see the guaranteed tuition plan as unfavorable because of this reason.

ASUO Senator, Max Burns is not in favor of the plan.

“There are people who can’t get their foot in the door because they can’t get through the initial costs,” Burns said at the forum. “This system would […] make the number of people who can’t get their foot in the door even greater.”

At the first forum, Moffitt showed how several other state public research universities, like University of Arizona and University of Colorado Boulder, use the guaranteed tuition plan.

Moffitt said that when she contacted the Chief Financial Officers of these institutions, they told her that guaranteed tuition helped increase graduation rates.

Freshman, Lucas Vireday said at the first forum that the TFAB should research how guaranteed tuition at other institutions impacted enrollment, and then show their findings at the second forum.

Students also questioned administrators regarding programs that could be cut in order to lessen the guaranteed tuition plan’s higher tuition increase.

One freshman student asked how much it costs to provide the fliers, graphics, books, water bottles, etc. that incoming freshmen receive.

He said that he would be more supportive of the plan “if you could not increase our tuition by two percent, and not give us any of that.”

Although two of its members serve on the TFAB, the ASUO Executive is against the proposal, and is advocating for tuition to not increase at all.

According to Moffitt, tuition makes up 81 percent of this year’s revenue. The ASUO Finance Director, Shawn Stevenson and Chief of Staff, Casey Edwards, said they feel that the administration should search for alternative sources of income.

Stevenson and Edwards say they would like to see the administration get behind the corporate minimum tax, which they say would increase state revenue. The Exec. would then like the administration to make sure that those funds are channeled into higher education.

The Exec. is also concerned about the fate of the incidental fee, which the ASUO allocates to programs and departments.

Since the I-fee is a tuition-based fee, Stevenson says that there has been discussion from the administration on setting it into the four-year guaranteed tuition plan.

“We will fight tooth and nail to make sure that the I-fee is not under Administration control,” Stevenson said in an interview with the Emerald in early November.

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