No one needs to be reminded that the cost of just about everything is increasing. College tuition in Oregon is no exception.
But the rate at which tuition at Oregon's public universities is soaring is cause for alarm and an issue that the state legislature and others need to address.
The State Board of Higher Education approved a number of tuition and fee increases, recommended by the schools themselves, during its Friday, June 3, meeting.
Western Oregon University in Monmouth will raise tuition rates 5.1 percent this fall. Based on 15 credit hours, tuition and fees for an incoming freshman at WOU would total $8,076 for 2011-12. That amount, however, would remain flat for the following three years under Western's "Tuition Promise" guarantee. Meanwhile, graduate resident tuition will increase by 4.4 percent.
Next school year's tuition hike at Western Oregon is on top of the 8.8 percent increase approved for 2010-11 and the steady line of other hikes OK'd in recent years.
And WOU is not alone in the increases. The average tuition increase for Oregon's seven public universities for 2011-12 is 7.5 percent.
Rates are determined by considering each school's operating costs, tuition hikes from the previous year and the amount of money given to institutions by the state.
One of the biggest issues facing the likes of WOU, Oregon State University, University of Oregon and others is that last point: the amount of money given to higher education institutions by the state. Oregon's political leaders, facing a tough budget crisis, continue to reduce the amount of funding they provide for higher education at a critical economic time in our state.
Our universities must find ways to improve efficiency and find opportunities for cost savings in how they provide an education. You know the old adage: Do more with less.
We need to be careful and caution Oregon's political leaders and public universities that they are putting the cost of a higher education out of reach for too many of our future leaders. Higher education is critical, and the last thing we should be doing is making it seem out of reach for too many of those future leaders.