PSU faces tuition hikes and cost cutting without more state funding
Author: Christopher Broderick  
Posted: March 18, 2019

Portland State leaders Monday detailed the daunting budget and tuition challenges facing the university over the next two years and the need to rally for more state support. 

At a packed campus forum for faculty and staff, President Rahmat Shoureshi and other administrators said current funding proposals in Salem would likely result in unpopular tuition increases and other steps to averts cuts in academic and support programs. 

Shoureshi noted that the cost of a public university education in Oregon has shifted dramatically over the past 20 years from the state to individual students. Today, the state spends about $2,000 less per student on average in inflation-adjusted dollars than it did two decades ago. 

“You are looking at an administrative team that is committed to turning our finances around,” he said. 

Associate Vice President of Government Affairs Kevin Neely said the co-chairs of the legislative budget committees have allocated a $40.5 million in new money for the next two years across all seven public universities. For PSU, that would mean only an additional $1.3 million next year – an amount that would not come close to covering projected increases in salaries and benefits of employees. 

In contrast, the seven universities are seeking $120 million in additional state money over the next two years to avoid cuts and large tuition increases. 

Vice President for Finance and Administration Kevin Reynolds detailed several budget and tuition scenarios for next year. PSU projects a shortfall of $18.6 million due to rising costs of personnel, pensions, services and other expenses. Because tuition is the largest source of revenue at PSU, budget-balancing scenarios under consideration include tuition increases. 

Provost Susan Jeffords urged faculty to continue to find ways to raise revenue though sponsored programs, private gifts and other revenue-generating proposals. 

Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies Mark McClellan said sponsored research totaled $60 million last year, which is crucial as part of PSU’s mission and to help finance both faculty salaries and student tuition.  His cited several initiatives and reorganization efforts to bolster research activities and funding in the coming years. 

The leaders urged faculty and staff to join students, alumni and others for PSU’s “Day at the Capitol” on April 16 to make the case in Salem for more state support. The next budget forum is for students at 5 p.m. April 4 in Smith Memorial Student Union. 

For more details on the PSU budget, go to