The Tuition and Fees Advisory Board held a second open forum Nov. 30 to address the concerns of students and faculty regarding the proposal of a guaranteed tuition program. This program would set a fixed tuition for four years for each incoming freshman class rather than annual increases.
So far, the board does not have a finalized proposal of what the possible tuition and fee costs would be for next year’s freshman because they have not yet worked out potential student problems.
Before setting a price, the board will need to figure out who will graduate in more or less than four years, number of transfer students and possible increased costs.
Roger Thompson, Vice President for Enrollment, says that the board is still discussing what the university’s program will look like because of student problems and the lack of a concrete proposal.
“If we come up with a proposal, we don’t want it to be half-baked,” Thompson said.
Thompson said that the board has studied three other institutions that are similar to the University of Oregon that have implemented a guaranteed tuition plan – the University of Colorado, University of Kansas and the University of Arizona – to see how it affects the schools graduation and retention rates, enrollment and other factors.
Thompson is optimistic that providing guaranteed tuition will be helpful for incoming students.
“We are able to talk with families honestly and ethically about the total cost to earn a degree. We can’t do that if we don’t know what that’s going to be. That, to me, is the biggest benefit,” Thompson said.
Shawn Stevenson, ASUO Finance Director, raised concerns surrounding the economic viability of a guaranteed tuition plan.
Stevenson worries that any unexpected future costs or cuts will result in the incoming freshman cohort to take the brunt of the burden.
“The burden of decision making will be put on the administration, but those costs will find its way to the student body,” Stevenson said.
Jamie Moffitt, Vice President for Finance and Administration, says that potential cost increases, such as Oregon’s Public Employees Retirement System, and revenue sources could change in the future and that would affect how much incoming students would pay.
“We are trying to plan for things like the PERS increase […] This is the issue that makes me the most nervous,” Moffitt said.
With so many unknown variables regarding how a guaranteed tuition plan will impact students, Stevenson urged the board to wait a full year before implementing the plan so that the university has a full understanding of the situation.
Thompson disagreed with postponing implementation.
“Things already move way too slow [at the University of Oregon]. It’s time to ride,” Thompson said.