Seven dollars and thirty-five cents.
That is how much more Southern Oregon University students are most likely going to have to pay per credit come fall term. This means a standard 15 credit course load would amount to a total increase of $110.25 per term.
The newly created SOU Board of Trustees has made the decision to endorse a raise in undergraduate student tuition by nearly 5 percent ($7.35). If the plan goes into effect, beginning in Fall term of this year, students will have to pay an average of $147 per credit. Since 2010 tuition rates have risen by nearly 25 percent.
The Board of Trustees is a 15 person board made up of community leaders, politicians, philanthropists as well as SOU professors and students. Formed by Governor Kitzhaber in Sept. 2014, It has been tasked with battling retrenchment by supervising and managing the University. While the Board itself does not yet have the ability to raise tuition on its own, it can recommend an increase to the state governing board. “I would be very surprised if they didn’t accept it,” says Ryan Brown SOU’s head of Media Relations, “but nothing is official yet.”
The tacked on $7.35 is part of a SOU’s cost saving retrenchment plan. The goal of which being improve retention, increase enrollment and curb cuts to school programs and facilities. An increase will go a long way in achieving the $6 million necessary to battle retrenchment.
“That sounds like weird logic. Why do they think a more expensive school experience would make more people want to come here?” Jordan Rosenbach a business major in his senior year at SOU who was unaware that tuition was being hiked. “I’m pretty good at keeping up to date with school email and news, but I had no idea this was happening,” he said.
Indeed the decision to raise tuition will directly affect student who came here for the affordable tuition. Haley Wild-Sici and Joey Tiernan are two SOU students who are perplexed by the decision to raise tuition. “Its not that bad but it adds up,” Tiernan said, “I came here for the affordability, it was the cheapest in state tuition I could get.” Both Tiernan and Wild-Sici believe this will hurt long term enrollment numbers.
While an increase in tuition may put some hardships on students it should be noted that SOU will still be one of the most inexpensive public universities in the state. Second only to Eastern Oregon University.
In addition to this in 2014, retention of first year freshmen has risen by over 6 percent. “I think its just a sign of a changing economy,” Rosenbach says “I’m not so sure those statistics are related.”
Rosenbach remains skeptical about the effects this increase in retention has had on the university, being concerned about the lack of visible progress. “If they announced they were going to increase tuition so they can bring in more programs I’d be okay with that, but the only real improvement I’ve seen is for people living in the dorms,” he says. Tiernan agrees saying “Theres been no real change in the music department which is where I spend most of my time. Other than classes and majors getting cut.”
Lets hope that $7.35 will be enough to really help the university.
Board members could not be reached for comment, or declined to speak.
Published April 8, 2016 The Siskiyou