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Board of Trustees may increase tuition

Tution increase
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The school board is near approving a $10 per credit tuition increase. The increase has already been approved at the first of two board meetings; the first held on April 10. The next and final reading will be held May 8, where the board will vote for or against this increase. If approved, changes in tuition will take effect summer term of this year.

Tuition is currently $75 per credit. The increase puts tuition at $85 per credit. For a full time student, this increases the cost of a term from approximately $900 to over $1000; not including books and fees.

UCC currently has the lowest tuition in the state. If approved, the increase will put UCC at the statewide community college average but still the third lowest tuition in the state.

Several factors are influencing this increased cost.

The first factor is the state is undecided on the funding allocation for community colleges for next school year, as mentioned in the school board meeting.

The state of Oregon funds its 17 community colleges at about 31 percent of their budgets. Local property taxes fund approximately 24 percent, and tuition and fees fund the remaining 45 percent, according to the Oregon Blue Book. According to Lynn Moore, Vice President of Administrative Services and Student Development, the state hasn’t decided if funding for next year will be $410M, $423M or $453M. The state also has indicated that an additional holdback of 2 percent may occur later, depending on the economy.

UCC President Joe Olson hopes the state will come through with more than the minimum funding. “There is still considerable optimism that community college funding will come in over the Governor’s proposal, which is 428 million dollars. Funding over this level, particularly if it comes at or near the 453 million dollar level that OCCA feels is possible, might make it likely that tuition can be held at near the current rate,” Olson said in a campus email.

The second factor is that the state Department of Education is reviewing the formula itself for their contribution. Changes could affect the 31 percent given to community colleges.

In addition, UCC, as well as all other state agencies, is facing increases in state mandated public employee pension payments due to problems with the current PERS investments.

“The Oregon pension fund was induced to invest $200 million into home loans originated by Countrywide, and lost $29 million as a result of misrepresentations by Countrywide and its financial underwriters,” State Treasurer Ted Wheeler said in an April 17 press release.

Wheeler and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced on April 17 that Oregon, in conjunction with other investors, won a lawsuit against Bank of America and Countrywide because of their misrepresentations. Bank of America will pay $500 million to these investors, including the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund.

Whether this settlement may affect the increases colleges are being required to pay into their PERS accounts is unknown at this time.

With all of these uncertainties, Moore reassures students that their best interest is in mind. “It is the intent of UCC to avoid increasing tuition as much as possible,” Moore said.