Nonresident tuition hiked by thousands

    Tuition for nonresident students taking eight or fewer credits at Portland State will increase by more than $2,000 beginning fall term, after the Oregon University System approved the increases in June.

    In past years, out-of-state students could pay in-state tuition if they took part-time classes at PSU, eight or fewer credits per quarter. The total cost for nonresident students will increase by over 300 percent, to $3,084.50, while resident tuition remains at $980.50.

    The OUS board approved the increases after PSU submitted a proposal for a rate increase to the board last spring in the face of a dwindling university budget. Di Saunders, the OUS spokesperson, said the tuition increase for nonresident students was a Portland State decision. “The proposal was generated from needing to generate additional revenue,” she said.

    Michael Fung, budget director for the finance and administration department, said administrators had discussed raising the cost of tuition for nonresidents for the past couple years. According to Fung, this discussion is part of a larger conversation about making the tuition structure at PSU more comparable to that of other major universities.

    ”This change was proposed and approved in order for PSU to move closer in line with the other major universities within the system and across the nation,” Fung said. Raising the cost of tuition for nonresidents is the first step in raising the cost of tuition for all PSU students, he said.

    Courtney Morse, the current student president, said she strongly disagrees with the decision to raise the cost for nonresident student tuition. Morse is an out-of-state student who has never taken more than eight credits per term.

    ”We know that the basic problem is not funding our universities,” Morse said. “It should not be the responsibility of nonresidents to fund our university system.”

    Soon Morse will qualify as a resident student. Because she has been attending PSU for two years and has never exceeded eight credits, she is eligible to become an Oregon resident before the beginning of fall term.

    PSU has set aside $50,000 in tuition remissions to help ease this burden for those students, both undergraduate and graduate, who are impacted by the new rule. A hardship committee will review letters from affected students and determine who will receive grant money.

    Many of these nonresident students were recruited by PSU with the benefit of the old rule in mind. Portland State has been “recruiting on the basis of this benefit,” one staff member at the office of business administration said, “and we think it is sort of unfair if that is why you came here.”

    The OUS board only approved the proposal after the PSU budget committee and the student government, then under the leadership of student body President Erin Devaney, had already reviewed it.

    The Portland State Washington Border Policy allows residents of Washington state counties that border Oregon, who take fewer than eight credits, to have the status of resident students. Still, Portland State boasts close to 10,000 nonresident students as of the spring 2006 term, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Planning.

    Students who will be affected by the new rule have an opportunity to apply for financial assistance through a PSU grant.