Students have learned to adapt to increases in tuition as the university tries to pay for rising university costs and projects, and students have been struggling to keep up with the cost, which has risen 87 percent in the last 10 years.
According to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, 59 percent of UO’s students were “unable to meet expenses with expected resources,” for the 2016-17 year, which include contributions from family, financial aid and other earnings.
With fees that include buildings, incidental and the recreation center, students will look at a fee total of more than $2,000 — on top of what they already owe — annual undergraduate tuition for the 2017-18 school year was $9,495 for residential and $32,535 for non-residential, according to the UO’s statistics for tuition and fees.
UO's undergraduate resident tuition increased 2.4 percent last year, and it isn't the only Oregon university which saw a tuition increase. Last year, Oregon State University's Board of Trustees voted to raise tuition by 3.97 percent, and Portland State University also saw a 3.95 percent increase last year.
Students struggling with costs, like sophomore Cinema Studies major Sammy Kuk, sometimes rely on UO’s “emergency loan,” an advance on a student’s UO account to pay for supplies like books and other necessities.
“It’s only through the pipe dream of scholarships, loans and a very nice family that I'm even here in the first place,” Kuk said. “I don't even feel like I picked Cinema Studies, to be honest. Cinema Studies chose me, and I couldn't be happier to be in a major that I actually want to learn more about. I will find a way to stay here, even if it means robbing a bank or selling a kidney.”
Along with normal fees, students like Kuk may be looking at additional costs for supplies like the $100 external hard drive she needed this term, or surprise course fees that are class-specific.
For junior Planning, Public Policy and Management major Megan Green, being in the College of Design has been rewarding. Green says that her professors are incredible, but one of the problems she’s encountered is what she calls “self-taught” classes that she says she feels like she’s not getting the most out of her education for what she pays.
“I've had classes where we would be expected to seek outside sources such as tutors or online sites like Khan Academy just to pass the class,” Green said. “I guess my expectation would be that professors would put in more effort based on tuition costs.”
This concern over tuition isn’t uncommon among other students. According to UO’s Institutional Research data, residential tuition has risen anywhere from $270 between 2017-18 and 2018-19, to $585 from 2016-17 to 2017-18.
Junior Journalism and Cinema Studies major Allison Barr finds that it’s almost impossible to save as a college student paying for her expenses. Despite the costs, Barr said that having a degree is a necessity in the workforce and for her, going to the School of Journalism and Communications was the cheapest option to study journalism.
“College is ridiculously expensive,” Barr said. “I think we are lucky to have access to have a lot of free resources, but I don't think any number of resources or services could change my mind about this.”
This story has been edited to fix an error.