PSU Board of Trustees votes to raise tuition to avert deep cuts
Author: Christopher Broderick, University Communications
Posted: April 11, 2017

The Portland State University Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to raise tuition next fall to avert deep cuts in programs and staff, promising to lower the increase if the Legislature increases funding for higher education. 

Trustee Maude Hines, an associate professor in English, described the vote as a “horrifically reluctant decision,” because the tuition increase combined with $9 million in proposed cuts are necessary to avert a $20 million shortfall in the next fiscal year. 

Factors driving the increase include the budget recommendation by legislative leaders and Gov. Kate Brown for no increase in state support for higher education in the next two years despite increases in pension costs, health care benefits and wages. In addition, enrollment at PSU is projected to decline slightly next fall, which would reduce tuition revenue. To bridge the projected $20 million shortfall, the trustees supported a tuition increase that would raise $11 million combined with $9 million in cuts. 

The annual tuition increase of $693 for resident full-time undergraduate students would bring annual tuition to $9,030, a 9 percent increase over this year. President Wim Wiewel said the board will revisit both the size of the increase and budget cuts if the Legislature is able to reach an agreement to allocate more money for PSU and the other six public universities. State lawmakers face a $1.6 billion revenue shortfall over the next two years and are not expected to reach an agreement on a biennial state budget until early this summer. 

Representatives of the Associated Students of Portland State University told the board that the proposed tuition increase will impact enrollment, particularly among low-income students and families. A group of about a dozen other students staged a protest after the tuition vote and urged the board to reconsider.    

Kevin Reynolds, vice president for Finance and Administration, said low-income students who receive federal Pell grants will see little impact from the increase because of their grants and remissions, estimating that their individual net tuition costs will total about $500 for next year. Reynolds also noted that other Oregon public universities are proposing tuition increases for the same reasons as PSU. Annual tuition at University of Oregon and Oregon State University, for example, is about $2,000 more a year than at Portland State. 

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