Board of Trustees to decide on tuition and fee increases

The Portland State Board of Trustees will hold a meeting this Thursday to face the task of reviewing–and likely hiking–tuition and student incidental fees.

The board will meet at the Academic and Student Recreation Center to discuss a range of agenda items. Cost of attendance will likely be a central focus for the meeting and will be the last topic of discussion. The board has also set a period for open comment, and has asked commenters to sign up on their website.

The proposal for cost increases includes an uptick in tuition rates across the board of up to 4 percent. President Wim Wiewel has also recommended an increase in mandatory fees, including incidental, health, and Rec Center fees. The Building Fee will remain static from the 2015-16 academic year.

The increase will be proposed against the recommendation of the Student Budget Advisory Committee, with whom the president’s office consults before budgetary determinations. The SBAC also acknowledged financial constraints faced by the university administration in a statement to Vice President of Finance and Administration Kevin Reynolds.

“Students struggling to meet financial obligations is why student representatives are fundamentally unable to support increasing tuition and fees,” the SBAC said in the statement. “We recognize that these increases may be necessary, but we’re unwilling to openly support such action. Every dollar cost increase to students is an increased burden for them to carry, and will inevitably cause some to cease their college careers.”

President Wiewel also expressed concerns about student burden. But he also pointed out in a winter term press conference that holding down or lowering tuition disproportionately affects students with greater financial need by pushing benefits to more affluent students without need. While speaking about a tax proposal to expand access to need-based money, he argued for targeted benefits, such as need-based scholarships and aid.

“You can’t spend the same dollar twice,” Wiewel said during the press conference. “You can either use it for scholarships or you can use it to not raise tuition, but you can’t do both at the same time.”

In an effort to allay criticism by students and faculty about an inconvenient meeting schedule, the board adjusted its meeting schedule away from finals week.

The spring term meeting comes on the heels of a spate of contentious meetings and decisions by the board. December’s meeting was interrupted by protests against the arming of campus police. Additionally, students staged a die-in in an effort to block the trustees’ vote on adding a sworn police force to the Campus Public Safety Office in 2014.

The PSU Student Union, which was involved in the fall term interruption, has organized through social media in an effort to continue its protest.

PSU Board of Trustee Meeting
-Thursday, March 31, 2016
-1-5 p.m.
-University Board Conference Room, Room 515
-Academic and Student Recreation Center
-Meeting Agenda:
-Public Comment Signup: