WOU tuition hike anticipated

MONMOUTH -- With ever waning appropriations from the state, students at Western Oregon University will likely again see their tuition creep up.In-state freshmen would see an increase of 7 percent in the 2013-14 school year to Western's tuition promise program from the previous year. Students not taking part in the program would see an increase of 3.4 percent. Students already enrolled in the promise program would see no change in their tuition costs.That is all based on a recent recommendation by the Oregon State Board of Higher Education's Finance and Administration Committee. The full board will vote on the proposal June 21."The largest cost driver is state funding," Oregon University System Director of Communications Di Saunders said. "When state funding does not go up or the increases do not meet enrollment increases, students really bear the brunt of those increased costs."State funding across OUS has decreased 35 percent while enrollment increased 17.2 percent in the last five years. In the same period, Western has seen a 15.6 percent increase in enrollment."Our students were intimately involved in understanding where we were throughout the year," WOU President Mark Weiss said. "We have a student committee that gets to ask questions as they wish of me and our Vice President for Finance Eric Yahnke to understand what the basis for any proposals for tuition increases is."Currently, students in Oregon pay roughly 70 percent of the cost for their own education -- the other 30 percent coming from the state. Twenty years ago students paid around 30 percent and the state 70 percent."Whenever there are increases for the retirement or the health care, we don't get any increase in appropriation from the state to cover that," Saunders said. "Every student pays $850 a year to cover PERS costs for the faculty and staff."University administrators are seeing community college transfers flattening out and graduate student enrollment declining."We are in relative fiscal health but we look forward and project a leveling off of enrollment numbers," Weiss said. "We have this, what I call, 'window of opportunity.' It's an opportunity to find ways to increase revenues either through new programs or finding new students."Western is looking to increase the presence of international and out-of-state students. On average, international and nonresident students pay two to three times more in tuition than residents."If we want to grow our enrollment, we have to do one of two things," Associate Provost David McDonald said. "We have to improve our retention of our current students. The other thing we have to do is recruit more students from outside of Oregon."

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