University of Oregon campus
The University of Oregon is proposing tuition increases incoming students in the fall of 2022. (Photo by Rick Obst/Creative Commons)

By Alex Baumhardt, Oregon Capital Chronicle

The University of Oregon’s incoming freshmen could face some of the highest tuition and fees of any class before them.

The university’s Tuition and Fee Advisory Board, a group of 16 staff and five students, recommended tuition increases for this fall of 4.5% for Oregon residents and a 3% increase for out-of-state students. 

The advisory board also recommended an increase of about $124 in annual university fees for health services, technology, the recreation center and student union, putting those annual fees at just over $2,500 for all incoming students. 

This would be the third increase of tuition and fees since 2019. 

The changes would apply only to students enrolling in the university for the fall of 2022 because of something called the Oregon Guarantee. In 2020, the university ended the practice of raising tuition for everyone each year. Instead, incoming students are the only ones who shoulder any tuition and fee increases, but they are guaranteed that the price they pay their first year will be locked in for them for five years. 

The advisory board’s recommendations were sent to the university’s board of trustees and to the university president, Michael Schill, on Feb. 11. They have accepted all of the recommendations of the advisory board for the last two school years.

A public hearing over the proposed fee and tuition increases was held Feb. 15, and written comments from the public must be submitted by Friday, Feb. 15, at 5 p.m.

If the fee increase goes into place, Oregon residents would pay an additional $600 a year in tuition.  It would bring a year of full-time tuition for Oregon residents to about $15,000 annually. For non-resident undergraduates, the cost would rise more than $1,200. A year of full-time tuition and fees would go from about $40,500 to more than $41,600.

This does not include the costs for housing, books and other supplies.

The reasons for the advisory board’s recommendations include budget deficits, cost increases, forecasts showing lower enrollment in the years ahead and rising employment and inflation costs, according to a report it sent Schill.

The advisory board reported that despite bringing in “an extremely large class” of 4,600 new students during the 2021-22 school year, “Enrollment levels at community colleges (which affect the pool of potential future transfer students) are at historic lows, and national projections for undergraduate students are trending downward.”

The board also forecasts a $3.7 million deficit in the general fund that covers the majority of university operations and cost increases of $20 million by 2023. Most of those cost increases are for staff wage increases.

Rising inflation and uncertainty about ongoing impacts of Covid on student retention and enrollment factored into the decision as well, according to the report.

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