The Tuition and Fee Advisory Board is recommending several tuition increases to the university for the next academic year, including a 3% increase for current students, the board decided at a Thursday work session.
The proposal also recommends a guaranteed tuition model, meaning new undergraduate students would pay the same tuition rate for up to five years. In other words, current students would see annual 3% tuition increases for four more years. But residents in next year’s freshman class will see a tuition rate that’s 10.75% higher than the current rate. New out-of-state students, meanwhile, would be paying 7.5% more than the current rate.
“Are we willing to tolerate a gap if rates are a little lower?” University of Oregon Vice President of Finance and Administration Jamie Moffitt asked members as they discussed the rates’ impact on UO’s finances.
The proposal will now go to UO President Michael Schill, who will host a public forum to hear students’ opinions on Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. in the EMU Ballroom. Then, Schill will make a recommendation to the board of trustees, which will have the final say on approving the increase. (But if that increase is over 5%, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, a state advisory board, would need to review and approve the increase.)
If the plan is approved by Schill and the board of trustees, the university would implement a guaranteed tuition model beginning fall 2020.
In a statement shared at the meeting, ASUO members criticized TFAB for future tuition increases and for only acknowledging student concerns about increasing rates. They asked the board to postpone its recommendation on tuition.
“The TFAB committee has failed to incorporate large scale discussion with the student body through this process and continues to discount student voices across this campus,” over a dozen ASUO representatives wrote in a memo.
ASUO senator Kezia Setyawan asked to read the statement aloud during the meeting, but TFAB members declined to hear the statement, citing a need to avoid distractions during the work session and instead suggesting that they pass out any materials they’d like the board to hear. At the beginning of the meeting, TFAB members had announced that they would not hear public comments at the meeting.
During the Thursday work session, members adjusted numbers in an Excel sheet used to calculate how various tuition rates could potentially impact UO’s revenue and current deficit.
But to make this model viable, the board is looking to increase resident and nonresident tuition before the program.
To implement guaranteed tuition, the university is looking at some of the other U.S. schools that have similar programs, such as the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Arizona, which guarantee tuition for four years in a model that includes transfer and part-time students.
The proposed plan, though not finalized until approved by the board of trustees, would lock tuition and mandatory administrative fees for both on-campus and online students. Some of the other possible details could include locking differential tuition for students in the business school or the honors college, locking mandatory administrative fees, such as the EMU and Recreation Center fees, and lowering rates for summer term, according to materials from a Feb. 11 TFAB meeting.
But UO would still be able to increase tuition rates for incoming, but not current, cohorts.
“When tuition rates are locked in for five years, families and students have financial predictability,” Vice President for Student Services and Enrollment Manager Roger Thompson said at a Jan. 9 TFAB meeting. “They know exactly what the cost of their education is going to be at the time they begin.”
If a student were to take longer than five years to graduate, then they would pay the tuition rate of the second cohort of students.