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All 7 of Oregon's public universities will raise tuition

All seven of Oregon's public universities will raise tuition for the 2019-2020 school year, with officials citing increased costs and less money than expected from legislators.

Posted: Jun 17, 2019 1:49 PM
Updated: Jun 17, 2019 4:58 PM

By SARAH ZIMMERMAN Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — All seven of Oregon's public universities will raise tuition for the 2019-2020 school year, with officials citing increased costs and less money than expected from legislators.

The hikes range from 2.33% at Western Oregon University in Monmouth to 9.9% at Ashland's Southern Oregon University.

Gov. Kate Brown had made education a priority of this session, repeatedly saying that she wanted to create a "seamless system of education from cradle to career." The Democrat expressed disappointment that higher education wasn't involved in a $2 billion increase for K-12 schools that legislators approved earlier this year, and she has continued to push the Legislature to increase university budgets to avoid tuition increases higher than 5%.

Legislators recommended a two-year higher education budget of $836.9 million.

That is $100 million more than last biennium, though schools like the University of Oregon said they needed at least $120 million more to keep tuition increases below 5%. The University of Oregon, the one of the state's largest public universities, will raise tuition 6.91% next school year.

State universities can raise tuition on their own if it's an increase of 5% or less. Any tuition hike above 5% requires a review by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, which met last week and approved the 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, said in a statement. "Unfortunately, we had little choice given the current financial situation."

Molly Blanchett, a spokeswoman for the University of Oregon, said the school has to address a $34 million recurring budget gap and that they're "facing a very challenging budget situation" because of declining international enrollment and increases in employee health care and retirement costs.

Schools that were able to contain tuition increases are doing so at a major cost.

Portland State University was bracing for an 11% increase in tuition, though the school reduced that increase to 4.97% at the last minute, thanks in part to the legislative increase in funding. But the school still has to bridge an $18.6 million shortfall next year and is pursuing 2% cuts across the university, according to a statement.

Western Oregon University, which will have the smallest tuition increase among the state's seven universities, said it will operate on a deficit budget to avoid larger tuition hikes.

"We know that deficit budgeting is not sustainable, but the university's mission is to provide affordable degree pathways, and we met the challenge to keep tuition within reach for our students" said WOU President Rex Fuller.

Speaker of the House Tina Kotek said last week that the $100 million extra is "a substantial investment in higher ed," and it's unlikely that colleges will see additional legislative investment this session.

"We got as much as we think we can get into their system and now they're going to have to show us why they can't live with it," she said.

Thirty years ago, the state paid for two-thirds of its universities' operating budgets, with tuition covering the remaining third. That ratio has now flipped completely.

Southern Oregon University, which will raise tuition by nearly 10%, committed to automatically lowering that increase if legislators agreed to give more money. But even in the most optimistic of funding scenarios, SOU would have likely had to raise tuition above that 5% number because of years of legislative disinvestment that have forced administrators to run on deficit budgets.

"No option available to us would have been painless," said SOU President Schott in a statement. "These are the best choices for our students and the university, as lawmakers continue to shift the burden of higher education from the state to our students and their families."

The Legislature is expected to approve the final public university budget this week.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 178110

Reported Deaths: 2468
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah35509570
Washington23824229
Marion20503299
Clackamas15674204
Lane11854144
Jackson10123129
Umatilla800883
Deschutes736872
Linn425664
Yamhill415575
Klamath362559
Polk350352
Malheur343558
Josephine311762
Douglas307066
Benton280219
Jefferson208332
Coos199231
Columbia157526
Union142024
Wasco132028
Lincoln131220
Hood River114029
Morrow108515
Clatsop9118
Crook90719
Baker88114
Curry6069
Tillamook5893
Grant4314
Lake4197
Harney3156
Wallowa1585
Gilliam571
Sherman571
Wheeler261
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3727913

Reported Deaths: 61309
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123039823736
Riverside2977704555
San Bernardino2953154572
San Diego2759123684
Orange2693524910
Santa Clara1175382025
Kern1081311335
Sacramento1019061653
Fresno1008381654
Alameda857621481
Ventura803981002
San Joaquin718991340
Contra Costa67300782
Stanislaus606771035
Tulare49469831
Monterey43346380
San Mateo41318560
San Francisco36194529
Santa Barbara33926445
Solano32126244
Merced31321454
Sonoma29747318
Imperial28052719
Kings22825246
Placer21979283
San Luis Obispo21038260
Madera16309240
Santa Cruz15759204
Marin13883227
Yolo13606205
Shasta11779219
Butte11643196
El Dorado9831109
Napa973779
Sutter9322110
Yuba613844
San Benito599863
Lassen568524
Tehama545957
Nevada450575
Tuolumne409164
Mendocino399847
Humboldt369738
Amador363247
Lake342143
Glenn236125
Colusa220816
Calaveras206652
Siskiyou197921
Inyo141938
Del Norte12927
Mono12744
Plumas6976
Modoc4924
Mariposa4317
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned680
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