Tuition Hike, President's Exit Raise Doubts For PSU's Nontraditional Students
Author: OPB
Posted: May 29, 2019

Portland State University’s president has resigned, and the board recently voted to increase tuition next year by 11%.

But PSU has one thing going for it: The university attracts and serves older students, a population for which other universities clamor, but struggle to support.

The average age at Portland State is 27, and the 71% of students earning bachelor’s degrees next month are students who earned credits somewhere else before transferring to PSU.

Universities have been courting recent high school graduates forever. But that enrollment pool is not as deep as it used to be and universities are looking to older students to grow. Those students may have kids, or full-time jobs, or credits from college experience years earlier.

“This is really a new kind of population that they see as — to maintain their current enrollment, and survive financially, to be perfectly honest — as national demographics change,” said Rebecca Klein-Collins with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.

Klein-Collins said universities start by offering evening and weekend classes, but they rarely look at other elements of the college experience — faculty and class interaction, for example. Older students can get frustrated and drop out.

But things at Portland State are different — and they have been since the beginning.