TFAB Meeting

The Tuition and Fees Advisory Board recommended an 11.6 percent increase in tuition for the next year on May 7, 2019. (Zack Demars/Emerald)

In-state students at the University of Oregon may face up to an 11.06 percent tuition increase for the next academic year if Tuesday’s Tuition and Fees Advisory Board recommendation is accepted by university administrators and the state Higher Education Coordinating Commission, depending on the state’s funding for the next year.

The TFAB recommendation will include a range of increases to tuition, with the “worst case” being an increase of 11.06 percent. For a resident student taking 45 credits over the course of an academic year, that increase means they’ll pay $1,080 more per year. A “best case” scenario would place the increase around 5 percent.

The recommendation also includes a plan to increase financial aid availability for low-income students.

During the meeting, ASUO Vice President Imani Dorsey told the group the ASUO executive wasn’t comfortable supporting an increase in tuition without more information about other forms of revenue. She told TFAB members she would submit a minority report alongside the board’s recommendation to university administrators.

“I’m seeing this as like, a big crisis, right? I just don't believe that there isn't any give, that it's untouchable on that side,” Dorsey said of the size of donations to the university for buildings and non-academic programs. ”Honestly, I don't feel comfortable cosigning any tuition increases unless I know that information.”

Surrounded by a group of 10 students who filed into the room about an hour into the meeting, TFAB’s 15 members hesitantly agreed to advance the plan after two hours of discussion. The move came after months of waiting — including meetings about rising costs, uncertainty about state funding proposals, a crowded student forum and finalized increases to both graduate and nonresident tuition rates.

TFAB’s recommendation and ASUO’s minority report will be published in a memo in the next few days. Both will go to UO President Michael Schill, who will make the final proposal for resident tuition to the board of trustees on May 23.

Schill plans to hold a student forum to hear comments about the proposal Monday, May 13 at 6 p.m. in the EMU Ballroom.

About halfway through Tuesday’s meeting, a group of 10 students joined the room to share their viewpoints. At one point, Maria Gallegos-Chacon, ASUO president and a member of TFAB, told the board about the impacts of students being “priced-out” by rising tuition.

“I have to listen to students,” Gallegos and they are constantly telling us they don’t have the resources they need to stay in. I've had students cry in my office because they're not coming here anymore.”

With its proposal, TFAB is responding to a bleak outlook for the university’s finances in the coming year, including a projected $23 million in increased costs and $10 million in budget shortfall — a projection that’s increased each quarter this year.

Part of that picture was clarified this month. May 1 was National College Decision Day – the deadline for high school seniors to pick where they’re going to college — meaning university administrators had a much better sense of how big the incoming class will be next year.

“They have not only hit the targets but they believe they have slightly exceeded the 100 percent targets,” said Jamie Moffitt, UO’s chief financial officer and TFAB co-chair, of the enrollment projections for the next year. Exceeding those targets means millions of dollars of new revenue for the university.

One of the last remaining factors in the discussion is the state’s level of funding to the university. TFAB based it’s proposal on a moderate estimate, though UO lobbyists in the meeting expressed confidence that the state’s appropriate could be higher when it is finalized in June. On Wednesday, students, staff and alumni will lobby state legislators in Salem for increased funding.

The Emerald will continue to cover this story as it develops.

Zack Demars is a reporter for the Daily Emerald covering administration and tuition. He's into politics, people and black coffee. You should send him tips, pictures of your dog or your favorite vegetarian recipes at [email protected]

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