The cost of higher ed is about to go up

2011-06-03T08:45:00Z 2011-06-03T08:50:54Z The cost of higher ed is about to go upBy GAIL COLE, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

OSU expects to see an 8.1 percent tuition increase for 2011-12

The Oregon Board of Higher Education is expected to approve 2011-12 academic year tuition increases for the state’s seven public institutions today, and students at Oregon State University could see their own tuition and fees increase by 8.8 percent.

OSU’s resident undergrad 15-credit tuition and fee rates might be $7,744, up from $7,115 for the 2010-11 year. Tuition alone will cost $6,228, an 8.1 percent increase from last year’s rate of $5,760.

Portland State University could see the biggest tuition and fee increase at 8.9 percent, from $7,130 to $7,764. The statewide average increase in tuition and fees is 7.3 percent; tuition alone will see a 7.5 percent increase.

The increase eyed by the board is similar to increases at Washington and California schools.

Washington’s Legislature approved 11 to 13 percent tuition increases this session for its six public universities for the 2011-12 year. California’s 

22-school Cal State system will see increases of about 10 percent, while University of California’s 10 universities will see an average of 8 percent increases.

Oregon’s public tuition rates are approved by individual institutions, the Oregon University System’s chancellor’s office and the State Board of Higher Education. The rate is determined by considering each institution’s operating costs, their previous year’s tuition increases and the state Legislature’s higher education allocation; this year has $743 million of state money designated.

Oregon University System spokesperson Di Saunders said the proposed increases are smaller than the increases faced by students in the early 1990s.

Saunders noted that students currently pay about 60 percent of the cost of their public education, while the state pays about 29 percent and miscellaneous revenue sources account for the remaining 11 percent.

Two decades ago, students paid only about 29 percent of the cost.

Saunders said the passage of 1990’s Measure 5, which placed limits on Oregon’s property taxes, was a key reason for the flip-flop. She said the measure forced the Legislature to find additional general fund money to cover the cost of K-12 education, and much of that money came from Oregon’s higher education budget.

Consequently, tuition increased tremendously in the early 1990s. The average Oregon University System resident 15-credit undergrad tuition in the 1990-91 academic year was $1,965, while the average for 1991-92 was $2,598.

In the 1990-91 academic year, enrollment at all seven institutions was 62,266. But as tuition ballooned, enrollment fell to a low of 58,020 in 1994-95; this group of students who left the system or didn’t enroll at all is known in Oregon higher education circles as the “lost generation.”

“We can’t afford another lost generation in Oregon,” Saunders said.

The Oregon University System’s total enrollment for fall 2010 was 96,960.

A call to new Associated Students of OSU president Tonga Hopoi for comment was not returned Thursday.

Contact Gazette-Times reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or

Copyright 2016 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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