University of Oregon President Michael Schill held a virtual forum on tuition and mandatory fees Thursday night. Students, faculty and staff were invited to share their input on the recommendations made by the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board for 2021’s tuition and mandatory fees.
TFAB members met 10 times between October 2020 and February 2021, during which they discussed the university budget, the impact of COVID-19 on finances, the guaranteed tuition program, cost drivers and long-term financial projections. The committee then compiled all of the information that was discussed at the meetings and drafted a memo with recommendations regarding tuition and fees for the president to approve or negotiate.
The decision was largely based on assumptions made about the incoming first-year class of students in fall 2021, which has a significant impact on the university’s financial position. Last fall, the university was expected to surpass its 2019 enrollment number of 4,600 first-year students, but that number dropped to just under 4,000 when it was announced that most classes would be conducted virtually.
If students return in pre-pandemic numbers for fall 2021, UO will only face a small one-year deficit for the 2022 fiscal year However, if enrollment numbers end up being similar to last fall, the university will face recurring annual deficits between $20 million and $25 million.
For all incoming first-year students this fall, the board recommended a 4.5% increase in full-time tuition and fees for residents, and a 3% increase in full-time tuition and fees for non-residents. TFAB took into account the financial challenges resulting from the pandemic, the increasing cost of higher education, ongoing uncertainty about COVID-19, market conditions and much more.
Tuition rates will vary depending on whether Schill implements a new ticket fee proposed by Intercollegiate Athletics. The proposed fee is the result of the ASUO Senate’s decision to reallocate the $1.8 million of Incidental Fee revenue from the Athletics Student Ticket Agreement to other programs that ASUO believes better serve the student body.
To continue providing student tickets to men’s basketball and football games, a proposed fee of $29.50 per academic term would be charged to new undergraduate and graduate students if implemented.
During the breakout sessions of the forum, the main topic of discussion was the Athletics Student Ticket Agreement. Representatives from the Oregon Marching Band, Oregon Cheer and the student body advocated for keeping student tickets free, and many seemed to disagree with ASUO’s decision to reallocate the funds.
The next step is for Schill to consider all comments and concerns presented to him by TFAB, students, faculty and staff, and then draft his own proposal to recommend to the advisory board. In turn, the advisory board will make a decision as to whether or not to vote in favor of the Schill’s proposal. There will be another public comment session in March before final decisions are announced.
This story was updated to reflect that the board's recommended 4.5% and 3% increases, respectively, in full-time tuition and fees for residents and non-residents only apply to incoming first-year students.