Oregon State University-Cascades students could soon face a 12 percent tuition increase. This follows a suggestion from the Oregon State Budget Committee. Both OSU and OSU-Cascades campuses are considering raising tuition for students taking 16 credits per term.
Tina Schnell, the Associated Students of Cascades Campus vice president, and Kelly Sparks, associate vice president of Finance and Strategic Planning, are OSU-Cascades representatives on a subcommittee of the OSU budget committee that will decide the implementation process. The major change will come in the straight-lining of their tuition rates, according to Schnell and Sparks.
The current system is unfair to students with fewer credits, explained Schnell.
“Right now, OSU has a plateau in their system,” Schnell said. “We’re trying to switch to a linear system.”
For current OSU-Cascades students, the plateau in the system allows for up to four free credits. While those taking anywhere from 12 credits or less are paying more each credit, students with 12 to 16 credits have the same bill for credits.
The option for the tuition increase that most of the budget subcommittee has settled on should change this factor, according to Sparks.
“The committee thought eliminating the plateau would be able to decrease irregularity while implementing tuition increases,” Sparks said. “It would have a slight increase for lower units while having a higher impact on a full credit-load.”
The favored tuition increase plan, one of seven options, would prolong the increase over two years while working up to a full impact on students. In the fiscal year 2014, the plateau would be limited from 12 to 15 credits, and by fiscal year 2016, it would be entirely eliminated.
Although this plan is more feasible and less of a dramatic impact than other options, it will still hit hard, Sparks said.
“It will increase 11 percent, than 12 percent,” Sparks said. “That’s around 1,000 dollars [in increase] or more for anyone who’s in the plateau.”
While the proposed change is dramatic, Schnell said OSU-Cascades has seen it coming.
“OSU is the only state university in Oregon to have this older system,” Schnell said.
OSU campuses were noted in the Fiske College Guide for 2013 as providing one of the two “best buys” in the country, mostly due to the credit system. With credit hour rates rising, this might not be the case for the future.
Students may not welcome the proposal, but Schnell believes it is a needed course of action for the campus.
“It would allow us to eliminate budget deficits while not increasing tuition too much,” Schnell said.
Not all OSU-Cascades students will be significantly impacted by the proposed change. According to Sparks, many OSU-Cascades students are not enrolled for over 12 credits, which limits the range of hard impact.
“Most of our students are less than the plateau,” Sparks said. “That’s the good thing about this campus.”
For the future, much still needs to be done. OSU-Cascades is looking at applying for fee remission dollars to offset costs for junior and senior students who have started at the campus with the current financial costs in mind. Also, OSU-Cascades still has to communicate the most affordable plan to the budget subcommittee and to the OSU Budget Committee, and have the committee submit the finalized ideas to the Oregon University System. The final plan will most likely be voted on by legislature in July, and according to Sparks, should be approved.
“Most of them–over 95 percent of the proposed budget changes we’ve submitted–have been passed,” Sparks said.
Whether or not the two-year impact plan will be adopted, OSU-Cascades students will still see a tuition increase in the future, according to Sparks.
“The decision to eliminate the plateau is chiseled in stone–how we do it is not,” Sparks said.