ASPSU has collected student testimonies that document the ways in which Portland State students believe the proposed 9.2 percent tuition increase will affect them.
ASPSU has collected student testimonies that document the ways in which Portland State students believe the proposed 9.2 percent tuition increase will affect them. ASPSU plans to take the testimonies to Salem when it lobbies the Oregon State Legislature for increased funding for higher education.
According to ASPSU Communications Director Brandon Harris, the student testimonies were collected because ASPSU wanted to include students in the policy process that governs their education. He said that the ASPSU-gathered testimonies will be presented to the Legislature during public hearings, as evidence for the need to continue funding for higher education.
According to Harris, ASPSU provided three methods for student input and testimony submission: paper forms, online statements and even a Facebook “question,” but little interest was generated. He estimated that ASPSU only received about 40 responses.
Harris said that the majority of the testimonies were negative. Common themes among student responses included having to take out more student loans, or taking fewer credits in order to lower academic costs. Many students also admitted that a longer path to graduation would be inevitable due to the tuition increase.
Monty Herron, a PSU sophomore, was quite vocal about the financial hardship the increase would mean for him. In his testimony, Herron offered his own alternative solution to the budget gap.
“Maybe we could offset some of [the tuition increase] by NOT pouring so much into an athletic program for less than 300 students out of 30,000,” he wrote.
PSU junior and ASPSU University Affairs Director Laken Harrel’s testimony said that the tuition increase would limit opportunities for many prospective students wanting to attend PSU, and lead to a less diverse campus. However, she also wrote, “This increase is one of the only ways to keep many places on campus from [experiencing] a huge decrease in funding.”
While Harrel’s response seems to indicate some understanding that the tuition increase is mostly beyond PSU’s control, Harris said that this is not the case with most students. In his experience, the majority of PSU students are not familiar with the complicated budget and legislative system that dictates tuition increases.
“President Wiewel is doing the best that he can for students,” Harris said. “This is [an issue] at the state level.”
PSU President Wiewel proposed the 9.2 percent increase for in-state undergraduate students and 6 percent for graduate students to the State Board of Higher Education at the recommendation of the tuition advisory committee. The tuition increase is an attempt to make up the estimated $23.7 million funding gap PSU faces.
The board, which is housed in the Legislature, will vote on the proposed tuition increase on June 3. The Oregon University System will adopt accepted budget allocations for the 2011–12 academic year next September.
Harrell, in her testimony, summed up the reality of the tuition increase.
“I think that this increase is probably the least dreadful option in either direction of the funding and tuition spectrum,” she wrote. ?