State commission approves tuition increase

The Oregon State Capitol building in Salem. (Creative Commons)

The University of Oregon’s in-state tuition hike was approved by the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) Thursday in Salem. If the current state funding proposal is finalized, tuition and fees will increase 6.91 percent for in-state students next year, which is an extra $822 dollars for 45 credits.

This comes a month after the board of trustees approved a range of resident tuition increase proposals based on the amount of state funding UO receives. Nonresident tuition is also increasing and budgets are being — sometimes unevenly — cut, all in an effort to improve a stark financial outlook for the university.

“While this is still unwelcome news for thousands of students, we are grateful that the Legislature’s recent investment decisions have allowed for these increases to be less severe than expected,” said Ben Cannon, executive director of HECC, in a press release.

The education subcommittee of the Oregon Legislature Joint Ways and Means Committee approved $837 million in funding for public universities across the state, $100 million more than 2017-2019. That increase is short of the $120 million it would have taken to keep the increase below 5 percent, the threshold at which HECC must approve any resident tuition increases.

“None of us are happy that we will have to raise tuition by over 5 percent this year,” Jamie Moffitt, vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer, told Around the O. “While we are grateful to the state for allocating an additional $100 million to fund universities across the state, the investment necessary to keep tuition under 5 percent was $120 million. We will continue to work with lawmakers to advocate for increased funding for higher education.”

There were two nay votes on the increase from commissioners Terry Cross and Sandy Rowe, according to Endi Hartigan, HECC communications director.

“U of O is in a reactive mode and I‘m not hearing a larger strategy,” Cross said in the hearing, according to OPB. “It seems like the past strategy was international students, and to get out of that, it’s going to take something more.”

Oregon Institute of Technology and Southern Oregon University also had increases of more than 5 percent approved Thursday. Those increases were passed unanimously.

Portland State University withdrew from consideration Wednesday after its board of trustees’ finance committee lowered its recommended increase to 4.9 percent, just under the HECC review cap.

The Oregon legislature is expected to approve the funding for state universities the week of June 17, according to Around the O.

Correction: An earlier version of this story attributed a quote from Cross as being said in an interview with OPB. The story has been update to reflect that Cross's quote came from the HECC hearing.

Associate News Editor

Gina is an associate news editor for the Daily Emerald. She used to cover crime and courts and loves a public record. Send tips and pictures of puppies: [email protected]