Oregon education board nixes PSU, UO tuition hikes

The Higher Education Coordinating Commission set up in 2011

Students protest approval of a college tuition hike wearing life jackets because they are "drowning in debt." (KOIN)
Students protest approval of a college tuition hike wearing life jackets because they are "drowning in debt." (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — About a month after Oregon’s major universities all announced tuition hikes, the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission met Thursday to determine if the hikes would be implemented.

The committee considered proposed rate hikes at 5 state schools — Portland State, University of Oregon, Southern Oregon, Western Oregon and Oregon Tech.

Students protest approval of a college tuition hike wearing life jackets because they are "drowning in debt." (KOIN)
Students protest approval of a college tuition hike wearing life jackets because they are “drowning in debt.” (KOIN)

The committee first approved the hikes at SOU, WOU and Oregon Tech, and were interrupted by students objecting to the increases.

But the committee nixed the proposed hikes at PSU and UO. The commission voted against the tuition increase at PSU, 4-3 with one abstention.

Recently, Portland State University trustees voted to increase tuition for in-state students by 9% this fall. University of Oregon trustees OK’d a tuition increase of 10.6% for in-state students. Oregon State University trustees voted on a proposal to boost in-state tuition by 4%.

Oregon’s largest public universities have been seeking steep tuition hikes at a time when health care and pension costs are rising and state support is lagging.

Officials at PSU said this vote will mean deeper cuts this fall.

“PSU faces a $20 million budget shortfall this fall, and the Board of Trustees last month unanimously approved a tuition increase combined with $9 million in cuts for next year to bridge the gap. Today’s HECC vote will mean an additional $5 million in cuts will have to be made to balance PSU’s budget. Details of those cuts are not yet determined, but the size of the cuts will likely mean that programs and need-based scholarships will be affected. There are no good options here, and we are asking the HECC to reconsider today’s vote.”

The commission was established in 2011 and currently has volunteer commissioners appointed by the governor, with 9 voting members confirmed by the Oregon Senate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.