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When the COVID-19 pandemic moved all university classes online last March, SOU students were concerned about whether or not tuition and student fees would change. Without access to campus buildings and services, the question of whether or not the student fee should reflect this change was highly debated. Student fees were ultimately reduced by 20% by the board of trustees, providing a small bit of relief during the economic crisis that followed the nationwide shutdown.
For an undergraduate student taking 12 credits, the minimum for full-time enrollment, the student fees total at $699, and breakdown like this:
- $60 Building Fee
- $385 Incidental & Green Tag Fee
- $150 Health Service Fee
- $104 Student Recreation Center Fee
To see a full breakdown of student fees and tuition with respect to currently enrolled credits, you can visit here.
As the country enters its ninth month of social distancing, remote learning, and working from home, it is of great interest to the student body whether these student fees will be decreased again due to limited access to campus and student services.
In an interview with Vice President of Finance and Administration Greg Perkinson, he predicts the student body will most likely not see another decrease in student fees or tuition anytime soon.
When asked about whether the $60 building fee would be dismissed due to lack of access to campus, Perkinson explained that “about a quarter of that fee goes to IT… because we really didn’t have any other way to offset the cost of technology” which has become essential in the time of remote learning. “We need to continue to invest in the technology that is going to enable students to connect to us remotely,” Perkinson assured.
That 25% of the building fee has also served in the process of fixing parts of the fiber network that was lost during the Alameda fires back in September.
The other 75%, however, goes toward the debt service of the expansion investment of the Stevenson Union that began nearly two decades ago. Perkinson doesn’t see the building fee getting completely removed because “we still have to make that debt service payment,” which means dropping the building student fee for student relief is extremely unlikely, despite the 10% decrease in the fee that was established this fall term.
In regards to the Student Health Center and Student Recreation Center fees, the case is similar. The student health center has seen an increase of students using the facility for mental health counseling and COVID-19 testing, for which the student fees largely support. The recreation center fees, much like the Stevenson Union, goes towards debt service from the pervious remodel and wages for student workers, respectively.
The 10% decrease seen in the student fees follows a similar decrease in enrollment, especially in undergraduates and international students. The current net enrollment deficit is at 13%, with the aforementioned undergraduates and international students as the major contributors.
However, the university has seen an increase in graduate student enrollment as well as early entry high school students, which is a positive aspect of the switch to remote learning. In correlation with this 13% drop in enrollment is almost 4 million dollars lost in tuition collection, with a 4.6% increase in tuition costs from last year to the current fall term to compensate for the loss. This increase no longer leaves SOU as the 26th most expensive college in the state, though there is no precise data yet as to where the university is ranked currently.
In regards to tuition costs rising in the wake of the pandemic and drops in enrollment, it is relatively uncertain. Tuition rates are decided by the advisory of four students, faculty, and staff to the President of the university every year. A tuition decrease would not follow current trends. As far as mandatory student fees, the current discount of 10% seems to be the only financial break students will see for the rest of the 2020/2021 school year.
Grant, Claire, and Greg Perkinson. “2020/2021 Student Fees and Tuition.” 16 Nov. 2020.
“Oregon In State Tuition Ranking.” Most Expensive Colleges & Universities in Oregon by In State Tuition, 2019, www.collegecalc.org/lists/oregon/most-expensive-in-state-tuition/?view=all.
“Tuition and Fees.” Raider Student Services, 2020, inside.sou.edu/enrollment/tuitionandfees.html.