Penny pinching next year means increased tuition, fewer services

In today’s world it’s hard to find a job that doesn’t require a degree from a college or university, and every year tuition rises to compensate for the deficit afflicting many Oregon institutions.

In order to compensate for a $2.5 million budget shortfall, Southern Oregon University submitted a proposal to the Oregon State Board of Education to be voted upon June 8 for final consideration for the 2012-13 academic year.

The proposal puts forth a 9.9 percent increase in tuition, a $44 reduction in student fees per term, $40 per term reduction in Health Services fees, and a $25 increase in the Health Services charge. After all aspects of the change are taken into account, the average student will be paying about 75 cents more a day for tuition.

With the reduction in certain fees and the removal of the mandatory health insurance premium, the university hopes to balance the increase in tuition, while creating a pool of funds intended to offset the cost for students with no other medical insurance source with the increase in the Health Services charge.

While the changes in student fees have been agreed upon by the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University, some students have expressed their dissatisfaction with how the institution makes such decisions. Freshman Colton Johnson is one such individual.

“I don’t appreciate their changing [tuition] without our vote, they are disrespecting us as students and people,” he said.

The increase translates in $12.50 per credit hour increase, which comes out to an extra $2,061 per term for undergraduate students taking a full fifteen credit course load. In addition the Masters of Education program will be seeing an 85 percent tuition increase, and resident graduate students will be paying 2.9 percent more in tuition.

“Most students aren’t going to see much of an increase,” said Jonathan Eldridge, vice president of Student Affairs. “We would not have done the 9.9 percent increase if fees could not be adjusted.”

Even with the proposed changes, SOU remains the second-cheapest school in the Oregon University System after Easter Oregon University, and a place where out-of-state and international students go for higher education.

Out-of-state students play an important role in SOU’s financial sustainability, paying more in tuition than in-state residents. SOU has worked hard to market itself as the public liberal arts university of the West, and every year new freshmen and transfer students come here to study theatre, arts, environment studies, outdoor leadership, and other programs that are unique to Southern Oregon and the Ashland area.

“I hope that future students will have the same opportunities that I had,” said graduating senior, Cody Ball.  “The educational system is screwed unless the federal government can make a stand that it values the future of its citizens.”

Because the increase is above recommended 7.5 percent annual increase, the proposal will be considered during the May 2012 Legislative Emergency Board meeting.

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