Oregon State University shares concerns with students and their parents over the importance of keeping a college education accessible and affordable. And we are committed to effectively address these issues in timely and on-going ways.
The university continues to build an increasingly diverse and inclusive student community. To help the state advance towards its 40-40-20 goal, the university has increased its enrollment in the past three years by 20 percent, ensuring access for qualified Oregonians. And we are committed to maintain affordability, improve the quality of education we offer, and reduce the time it takes to earn a degree.
To help achieve these outcomes, Oregon State has:
· Provided support to more than 2,600 students each year through the Bridge to Success program, which covers full tuition and fees for students;
· Raised $150 million for academic scholarships through the Campaign for OSU. Each year, more than 4,000 students receive donor-funded scholarships and fellowships totaling more than $7.5 million.
· Consolidated business services and academic units to reduce administration and direct funding to the delivery of educational programs.
As we start a new legislative cycle, student body leaders have suggested that tuition rates be frozen over the next two years. We think that requesting such a freeze is premature, until we learn what the legislature will appropriate in 2013-15 for higher education. Without knowing this, pledging to freeze tuition could have serious consequences for the students we serve.
To illustrate, were the legislature to pass Gov. John Kitzhaber’s proposed budget, and tuition remains at the current rate, we can reasonably forecast the following:
· A budget shortfall for Oregon State of about $16 million in the next fiscal year;
· A $2 million decrease in tuition waivers for low-income OSU students;
· A $3 million reduction in funding for university class sections and programs, which will eliminate approximately 600 course sections that provide seats for 24,000 students.
All of these factors will increase the time necessary to complete a degree Increased time to graduate not only results in a real increase in the total tuition paid by students, it also means that students will be delayed in starting their career and earning an income. For an OSU student earning 15 credits per quarter, an extra quarter would cost $2,220 at today’s tuition rates. Meanwhile, an eight percent tuition increase, for example, would result in a cost increase of $178 per quarter and $534 per year.
As frustrating as it may be for us all, the primary factor driving tuition increases at state universities is the decrease in per-student funding provided by the legislature that now means Oregon ranks among the bottom five states in per-student funding for its universities.
We are committed to work with legislators regarding the importance of how state appropriations help keep tuition from increasing. And we remain hopeful, that by working together with student body leaders, we can achieve a solution that minimizes tuition increases, while assuring that students receive the services and access to quality classes to succeed in the world.
Executive Vice President and Provost
Vice President – Finance and Administration