The Board of Trustees discuss President Shoureshi’s tuition recommendations, May 3rd. Bo Koering/PSU Vanguard

Board Committee approves alternative 4.9% tuition hike plan

Portland State’s finance and administration committee approved a resolution recommending that the tuition increase for undergraduates be reduced from 11.11% to 4.97% for the upcoming 2019–20 biennium on June 12.

The Board of Trustees will vote on the resolution next week. If it passes, tuition and mandatory fees will be raised from $9,105 to an estimated $9,577 for full-time resident undergraduates starting in the fall, compared to $10,050 at the original 11.11% increase.

PSU Interim President Stephen Percy said the decision to recommend the decrease came after talks with a variety of different people, including state legislatures and members of the PSU community.

“We thought very strong and hard about this, and our best estimate is that we take a little bit longer game plan here, not a lot, but that we keep tuition under 5% this year and that we go back and look at our new leadership, our budget and then see where we are,” Percy said. “Our best strategy now is to take a little bit more time to do our analysis.”

The decision follows House Bill 5024 moving through the legislature, which will increase funding among Oregon’s seven public universities over the next two fiscal years.

When the initial 11.11% increase was approved by the Board, the university was expecting to receive an increase of $40.5 million from the Portland University Support Fund; they now expect to receive $100 million.

“We started this year with no increase recommended for state universities,” Percy said. “Now, the Legislature has added $100 million, and we are thankful for that additional state investment.”

Even with the additional state funding, it is not enough to halt a tuition increase and budget cuts all together.

According to Kevin Reynolds, vice president of finance and administration, PSU has to bridge an $18.6 million shortfall next year in order to continue operating the way it is. In order to balance the budget, the university will need to increase tuition, secure additional state funding and implement budget cuts of up to 2% across the university.  

All seven public universities are proposing to raise tuition despite the increased state funding. As it stands, PSU is expected to remain roughly $2,500 less than University of Oregon and Oregon State University for full-time undergraduates next fall.

Since the proposed increased state funding, multiple universities have discussed walking back their initial proposed tuition increases. University of Oregon may be able to lower its tuition hike from 9.68% to 4.45%, and Oregon Tech may be able to lower its initial 9% increase to as low as 4.39%.

Not all Board members present supported the resolution. Irving Levin, chair of the finance and administration committee, voiced concerns about the disparity between PSU’s tuition compared to other state colleges such as UO and OSU.

The fact that we operate in the most expensive place in the state and have, I think, the third lowest tuition is absurd,” Levin said.

“Everyone would like tuition to be as low as possible, but hoping that the state throws a Hail Mary pass that we can catch at the end of the biennium—that’s no way to run this railroad,” Levin added.

The full Board of Trustees will vote on the resolution June 20.