Tuition and Fees Recommendation

To:        University of Oregon Community
From:   Michael H. Schill, President
Re:        Recommendations of the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board
Date:    February 9, 2016

Pursuant to university policy, I have received the recommendations of the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board (TFAB).  Among the recommendations is an increase of $9 per credit hour—or $405 per year—for in-state undergraduate students. Out-of-state students would see an increase of $30 per credit hour—or $1,350 per year. This equates to a 4.76 percent increase for in-state students and a 4.46 percent increase for out-of-state students. It is my current intention to ask the Board of Trustees to adopt TFAB’s proposal at its next regularly scheduled meeting on March 3–4. Pursuant to university policy, I am posting the TFAB recommendations together with this memorandum for public comment. 

As I have said several times over the past seven months, the number one priority for our university is to achieve excellence in teaching and research, and I believe that this tuition plan, as part of our overall strategic budget, is necessary to enable us to achieve those goals. To achieve excellence, we must invest in faculty hiring, research infrastructure, and student access. We also must address significant cost drivers including increased labor and medical costs, and IT infrastructure improvements. Due to public divestment in higher education, tuition is the university’s primary funding source. The UO receives just seven percent of its budget from the state of Oregon.

Note that I say this tuition plan is necessary, but it is not sufficient. As I have stated in several forums, we will need to utilize all of the resources we can muster to achieve excellence, including those obtained through increased advocacy for state funding, philanthropy, and resource realignment.

When paired with our internal effort to realign budgets with strategic priorities and cuts to administration, tuition dollars will help fuel the UO’s pursuit of excellence in the classroom, the research lab, and in the experience our students have every day on this campus. I do not contemplate making this recommendation lightly, but we owe it to the students of this university and the state of Oregon to do what is necessary to maintain and grow the academic and research stature of this school.

Affordability and accessibility are also objectives of our university and vital to achieving our public mission. Our tuition rate for resident undergraduates remains below that of peer research institutions that receive much higher state funding per capita. It is also below the ten-year average increase that we have experienced. I believe that the UO remains a remarkable value for students and families.

I am committed to doing everything in my power to cushion the impact of this increase on our most economically vulnerable students. We are expanding the PathwayOregon program, which provides full tuition and fees to nearly 2,000 Pell-eligible resident students. We will also expand our financial assistance by $1.4 million. We will continue the graduation assistance award program that we began this year. Perhaps most importantly, through the Oregon Commitment, we will work to make sure that every student at the university graduates in a timely fashion. That alone will save UO students tens of thousands of dollars that they currently incur in extra tuition and fees.

If you would like to comment on the proposal prior to my making a final recommendation to the Board of Trustees, please provide input using this form by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 19, 2016. Thank you.