CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Board of Trustees voted 11-1 on Thursday to approve a tuition proposal that would complete the elimination of OSU’s undergraduate tuition “plateau” and set tuition rates and fees for the 2015-16 academic year.
Under the tuition plateau, students taking between 13-16 hours had paid the same amount as students taking 12 hours, essentially resulting in some students subsidizing others, according to Steve Clark, OSU vice president for University Relations and Marketing. Oregon State was the only public school in the state to have an undergraduate tuition plateau.
“Following approval by the state Board of Higher Education and Oregon State student leaders, the university has gradually phased out the tuition plateau over the past three years,” Clark said. “We recognize that this final step in phasing out the plateau may place a financial burden on students who will have to pay for the first time, the entire amount for a full course load.
“Consequently, we are also working to target an additional $1.5 to $1.8 million in financial aid for Oregon State’s most at-risk returning students, who may be most impacted by this final step in phasing out the tuition plateau,” Clark said.
The board-approved plan actually reduces the credit hour fee for undergraduate Oregon resident students on the Corvallis campus from $189 per credit to $183, while establishing a tuition charge of $100 per term for all students. The net effect would be to increase overall tuition by 1.2 percent for those resident undergraduates taking 12 credit hours per term. Non-resident undergraduates taking 12 credit hours will see a 0.5 percent decrease.
Students taking 15 hours will pay a total of 11.6 percent more than last year – with the actual tuition increases accounting for $30 and the phasing out of the plateau discount resulting in an additional $855, Clark said.
The board set annual tuition for Oregon State resident undergraduates taking 15 credit hours at $8,535 for 2015-16. That amount is below the national average for OSU’s strategic peer universities ($10,098), as well as below the national average for Land Grant institutions ($9,817); and for public universities in the Pacific-12 Conference ($9,931), Clark said.
The new annual tuition rate for non-resident undergraduate students will be $27,195, which is lower than the University of Oregon (estimated at $30,239), and the average for public universities in the Pac-12 Conference ($30,846).
The board also approved a 2 percent increase for resident graduate student tuition; approved a 5 percent increase for non-resident graduate students; and approved tuition rates for OSU-Cascades, Ecampus online distance learning classes, and summer education courses.
According to state law, any increases in student fees or tuition in excess of 5 percent must be approved by the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
In other action, the OSU Board of Trustees voted to approve the issuance of not more than $57.5 million in university revenue bonds. The bonds will be used to finance a number of projects, including:
- The Learning Innovation Center, also known as the new classroom building on campus. Revenue bonds totaling $32.5 million will help pay for the $65 million project, which is scheduled to be completed by mid-August.
- Acquisition of the former Nypro Manufacturing Facility: Revenue bonds of $5.88 million will allow the university to purchase this off-campus site that will provide space for research, offices and storage.
- OSU-Cascades expansion: Revenue bonds totaling $5.43 million will help fund the expansion of the state’s first branch campus through real estate acquisition and development of facilities. An additional $2 million in bonds will support a long-range development campus plan for OSU-Cascades.
- Space improvement project: $11 million in revenue bonds will be issued to finance a series of renovation and relocation projects to provide additional space for administrative offices and functions.
The board also heard reports on OSU-Cascades and the university online distance learning program, Ecampus.
Becky Johnson, the university’s vice president of OSU-Cascades, reported that the branch campus has 1,172 students enrolled this year and will welcome its first class of undergraduate students beginning this fall when it becomes a four-year program. About 77 percent of OSU-Cascades students are from Central Oregon, though that profile may change as the campus grows.
By 2025, Johnson said, OSU-Cascades plans to enroll 3,000 to 5,000 students.
Oregon State’s Ecampus program has grown by an average of 18 percent annually over each of the past three years, and now offers more than 900 courses in 90 subjects. The award-winning program had more than 15,000 students take more than 156,000 credit hours last year, with about 4,500 students registered in one of 38 online degree or certificate programs.
Many students are attracted to the program because they started a degree and couldn’t finish, are place-bound, need additional training, or like the flexibility of online education, said Dave King, associate provost for outreach and engagement.