PSU trustees postpone tuition vote
Author: Chris Broderick, PSU Communications
Posted: April 12, 2018

The Portland State Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday to postpone a proposal to raise tuition next fall and directed university budget officials to find alternatives. 

"It needs to be less," said Board Chair Rick Miller, referring to the proposal to raise annual tuition by 5 percent for resident undergraduate students. 

As a result, budget officials will review potential revenue and spending proposals for the 2018-19 budget and return to trustees in two weeks. Tuition must be set this spring so students know what the rates will be and how that will impact financial aid. 

Board members said PSU faces difficult budget choices mainly because of a long history of under-funding by the state combined with rising costs of employee salaries, benefits and pensions. That is why all seven public universities in Oregon are proposing tuition increases for next fall. 

PSU originally proposed a 5 percent tuition increase for Oregon undergraduates next academic year in order to maintain services and avert cuts in programs and student support. 

"Without additional funds from the Legislature, PSU is forced to choose between increasing tuition or reducing our services — both of which ultimately make college less accessible to all Oregonians," Miller said. "It is particularly hard on the state's traditionally underrepresented students."

A group of students protested a tuition increase, telling board members that it would create a financial hardship for many students already struggling to pay their bills and afford college. 

"We are in a crisis mode because those (economically disadvantaged) students are being pushed out," said Brent Finkbeiner, president of Associated Students of Portland State University. 

For low-income students, PSU offers two new programs that provide free tuition for eligible freshmen and incoming transfer students who receive federal and state need-based grants.