PORTLAND – Tuition and fees at Oregon’s seven public universities could rise by as much as 13 percent as the schools brace for state budget cuts.
Oregon lawmakers are grappling with the numbers to pass a balanced budget by their June 30 adjournment. The state is facing a $3.8 billion gap between expected revenue over the next two years and the cost of continuing existing services.
Of the state’s seven public universities, Eastern Oregon expects the smallest tuition increase, of 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent, while Portland State may have the largest, of 10 percent to 13 percent.
Oregon State’s tuition is expected to rise by 9.5 percent to 10 percent; Southern Oregon, 7 percent to 8 percent; University of Oregon, 7 percent; and Western Oregon, up to 9 percent. The projected increase at the Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls is 7 percent to 9 percent.
While applications are up, it is not clear yet how tuition increases will impact enrollment.
Officials estimate the 86,500-student system could lose up to 10,000 students if the state cuts the system’s budget by 30 percent and tuition goes up 12 percent for the next two years.
“When students find out how much it really is, it might make a difference in their decision,” said Lindsay Desrochers, vice president for finance and administration at Portland State University.
School administrators say the increases are necessary to avoid cuts in academic programs.
Even with a 7 percent increase, the University of Oregon will still have to “scrape and scramble” to balance its budget, said Dave Frohnmayer, the school’s outgoing president.
“If the tuition number is affordable and enough for the shortfall, hopefully we won’t have any quality erosion,” he said.