Oregon State University budget contains many factors, considerations

Sherm Bloomer, OSU Budget and Fiscal Planning

Oregon State University’s Budget Committee, which includes student representatives, is conducting its annual budgeting process for the next academic year.

A proposal from the Budget Committee recommends the following tuition rates for 2016-17 school year: A 2.2 percent increase—$4 per credit hour—for Oregon resident undergraduate students; no increase for non-resident undergraduate students; no increase for resident graduate students; a 4 percent increase—$31 per credit hour—for non-resident graduate students; and no increase for summer session or Ecampus classes.

At the same time, the ASOSU Student Incidental Fee Committee, comprised entirely of students, is evaluating and determining incidental and health fees for next year. Our goal this year is that the total increase of all tuition and fees combined will remain below 3 percent.

Oregon State administrators recognize that the cost of higher education is a very important matter to students and their families. As a university, we work hard to limit the impact of tuition and fees by managing expenses; supporting increased state and federal funding; increasing financial aid; and growing donor support for scholarships.

Many factors are considered in creating the overall OSU budget and determining proposed tuition rates. Each year, Oregon State faces cost increases, which range from faculty salaries to health insurance and energy costs. Even with this tuition proposal, OSU will not recover all of the increased costs of operation from proposed changes in tuition. Cost controls and managing the number of students enrolled at OSU also will help balance the university’s budget next year.

Analyses of tuition at peer universities also are considered in recommending tuition rates. Oregon State has a goal of setting tuition rates for both resident and non-resident students below the median tuition rates of OSU’s peer universities. When analyzing peer schools such as Washington State University, Ohio State University and the University of Wisconsin, OSU compares favorably. The University of Oregon’s proposed tuition rate for resident undergraduates next year is close to 4.8 percent. At Portland State University, the proposed increase for tuition and fees for resident undergraduates is 3.7 percent.

This past fall, while rates for OSU’s resident students were below the median tuition rates at peer universities, rates for non-resident students were slightly above the median. Meanwhile, non-resident students attending OSU pay triple the tuition as do resident students, whose tuition is partially paid for by the state of Oregon. While that rate reflects the actual costs of education, it is also a barrier for students choosing to attend or remain at OSU. Maintaining enrollment of non-resident students, which includes international students, is important to providing a mix of students that contributes to the student experience at OSU and the university’s budget.

The university recognizes that even the smallest increase in tuition can create challenges for individual students to remain at OSU. This academic year, a fund of $1.7 million in additional financial aid was created to help those students who were most at risk for financial reasons of not being able to continue their studies. The university will continue this program and will increase the amount of financial aid dependent on what tuition rates are approved and the level of OSU enrollment in fall 2016. The total scholarship support available from the OSU Foundation also will likely increase this coming academic year as new scholarships are funded.

Ultimately, the OSU Board of Trustees is responsible for reviewing and approving proposed changes in tuition rates and is expected to consider the proposal at its March 31 meeting. This timing enables early communication of next year’s rates to students and families so they can consider these costs in their financial planning. Additionally, the OSU Office of Financial Aid uses this information to develop aid packages for students.

We continue to seek student input on the tuition recommendations. Comments, questions or concerns on the budget or tuition can be shared by emailing me ([email protected]) or Professor John Killefer ([email protected]), chair of the University Budget Committee.

Sherman Bloomer is OSU’s director of Budget and Fiscal Planning and a guest columnist for The Daily Barometer.

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