MONMOUTH -- Tuition and fees at Western Oregon University for incoming freshman will jump by 24 percent in the fall. For continuing undergraduates, they will increase almost 16 percent.
But the Monmouth college's rates still rank among the lowest in the Oregon University System (OUS), school officials said.
The State Board of Higher Education unanimously approved a new tuition schedule for Oregon's seven public universities on June 8.
Undergraduate tuition and resource fees, averaged across all campuses and for all credit loads, will not exceed 3.3 percent for 2007-08, said Glen Nelson, OUS assistant vice chancellor for budget operations.
WOU's increase stems from the implementation of the "Western Promise" program - all resident undergraduates who enroll in 2007 are guaranteed the tuition rate of $105 per credit hour for the next four years.
Upper classmen may take part in the program or opt to pay $96 per credit hour.
Rise is offset
The sharp rise in rates this fall for incoming students is meant to offset the annual tuition increases the OUS would otherwise institute during the next four years.
A new student at Western, taking 15 credit hours per term, will pay $5,982 in 2007-08.
Continuing students with the same course load will pay $5,577, a 15.8 percent increase from 2006-07. (In 2003, the state instituted a tuition freeze at Western as a penalty for a then-surplus of reserves in its general fund. That freeze was in effect until this year. The result is the large increase.)
Still, only Southern Oregon University, at $5,502, has cheaper annual tuition among state schools.
The board has adopted a policy, supported by Gov. Ted Kulongoski, of not raising tuition by more than the annual growth in median family income. That was projected at 3.4 percent for the 2006-7 school year.
Western officials started studying the fixed tuition concept last spring. Awareness by the public for the guaranteed rate has translated to "record levels for applications," said Dave McDonald, dean of admissions. "Students and families have been receptive. They see the value in this."
Western had received 2,670 applicants in 2007 as of June; the total last year in September was 2,630.
"We are currently 15 percent above last year's figure" for the date," he said. "It's the largest number by this date ever."