‘Oregon 46th in how it funds higher education’

Proponents seek $755 million for the state's seven universities

Hundreds rallied in Salem to promote more funding for higher education in Oregon, Feb. 12, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Hundreds rallied in Salem to promote more funding for higher education in Oregon, Feb. 12, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN 6) — College student Michael Jones was one of hundreds at a rally at the state capital pushing for more state funding for public universities and colleges.

Jones said it’s absolutely essential if the state is interested in helping young people get degrees.

“As a first-generation college student from a low income family that makes enough for the state to not help out or to help me out, I actually work three part time jobs to make ends meet and I still go to school full time,” he told KOIN 6 News.

PSU President Wim Wiewel, Feb. 12, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
PSU President Wim Wiewel, Feb. 12, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

Wim Wiewel, the president of Portland State University, said tuition rates have gone up in part due to a lack of state funding.

“It’s terrible. Oregon is about 46th or 47th in the nation in how it funds its higher education,” Wiewel said.

Proponents are pushing lawmakers for $755 million for the state’s seven universities, plus another $550 million for community colleges.

Even if they get all that, they said, that will merely put them on the same funding level as the one from 2007.

Wiewel said there are now 22,000 more students among the universities than in 2007. But the extra funding would help.

“That would at least allow us to make our students more successful,” he said.

The funding fight is just beginning, but opponents said funding higher education might mean less funding somewhere else.

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