Tuition increase decided

Yet again the State Board of Higher Education has approved a plan to increase tuition.

The board voted last Friday to scrap the tuition plateau, a move that will likely hit PSU students where it hurts the most – their wallets.

At the same time, the board delayed implementation of the new tuition structure until winter term, following much criticism that students hadn’t been given enough advance warning.

Under the tuition plateau, undergraduates could take 12 to 18 credit hours for the price of 12. Adopting a pay-per-credit plan, which should result in slight savings for part-timers, will mean significant tuition increases for full-time students.

In-state undergraduates taking 15 credit hours will see a 22 percent tuition increase, while those from out of the state will see a 10 percent hike.

Resident full-time graduate students will see their tuition jump 20 percent, while non-residents will see theirs soar by 70 percent.

Yet again, said OUS administrators, these cuts were fueled by declining state higher-education dollars.

While the budget is far from complete, the newest thinking puts PSU’s share of state money at around $123 million for the next two years, said Cathy Dyck, assistant vice president for finance and planning. For 2001-2003, PSU received $129 million. That funding, expiring in 2003, is a far cry from the original allocation – more than $14 million less.

That’s not confidence-inspiring, said Oregon University System spokeswoman Diane Saunders.

“Campuses are entering this new academic year with uncertainties about their current budget, still suffering from cuts from the last biennium,” Saunders said.

The result will likely be an increase in the time it takes students to graduate, and a decrease in the quality of education, said Oregon Student Association spokeswoman Amelie Welden.

“We’re pretty concerned about what this means for the students, in terms of getting the overall college experience. This is going to be funneling people into taking classes they only need for their major,” Welden said.

Student leaders at PSU hope to soften the blow by phasing in the increase over a couple of semesters. Student body president Amara Marino, along with Vice President Joe Johnson, met with administration representatives Monday morning in the hopes of winning their approval.

“I’m disappointed that the proposal passed at this point in time, but I’m very happy that our office of finance and administration is able to work with us to help students bear these costs,” Johnson said.

“We certainly want to work with the students, and we understand what people are saying about it being a hardship,” said Dyck of the budget office.

A meeting is planned Aug. 13 for further talks.

Whether a phased-in increase is feasible is not clear.

“We can’t stand to go backwards and lose funding,” Dyck said.