ASHLAND, Ore. — After a few months of uncertainty, Southern Oregon University (SOU) issued a statement on Tuesday indicating that it would raise in-state tuition rates by 10 percent, based on budgetary decisions made in Salem.
This tuition increase now puts SOU on par with three other major public universities that have also proposed tution increases of between 9 and 11 percent. Previously, SOU had anticipated a hike as high as 13.5 percent, which would be the highest proposed increase in the state.
"The SOU Board of Trustees last month approved a recommendation, based on input from the university’s Tuition Advisory Council, for a 2019-20 tuition increase tied directly to the level at which legislators would eventually fund higher education. At the time, the most likely scenario appeared to be near 13.5 percent," SOU News posted in an article on Tuesday.
However, budget negotiations among lawmakers in Salem resulted in a somewhat rosier outcome for Oregon's public universities, funding them at a higher rate than the last legislative session — granting higher education $837 million, or $100 million more than the current biennium.
Oregon's public universities had lobbied for an increase of $120 million.
"Even state funding at that level would not have prevented a tuition increase at SOU," the university's President Linda Schott said in a statement on Tuesday addressing students and staff.
A tuition increase of 10 percent equates to an extra $17 per credit hour. Based on a student taking 15 credits per term, that totals $765 more per term.
According to Schott, SOU will see only a sliver of the funds allocated by the Joint Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Education — just over $2.5 million of the $100 million total approved for Oregon's seven public universities.
"That’s a $1.67 million increase over our current year’s budget, but not enough to keep pace with the rising costs facing SOU," Schott said. "I am heartened somewhat that the increase is now set near the lower end of the range we announced last month."
The numbers remain subject to change. Raising the higher education budget by $100 million must be approved by the full Ways and Means Committee, followed by the House of Representatives, the Senate, and Governor Brown. Meanwhile, SOU's proposed tuition increase of 10 percent likewise must receive the approval of Oregon's Higher Education Coordinating Commission on Thursday.
"I truly appreciate the commitment all of you have demonstrated to reduce our costs wherever practical, and to stop the shift of higher education’s financial burden from the state to our students and their families," Schott said in her letter. "Thank you for all that you do to help our students persevere and succeed."