Students can not pay any more, tuition freeze needed
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 02:02
Students at Oregon State University are already struggling to pay for the costs of education, and we simply cannot afford any more tuition increases. President Ed Ray and members of the OSU President’s Cabinet insist a tuition freeze is not viable; however, I look forward to continuing to work with them to resolve this issue. While the OSU administration believes the primary factor motivating tuition increases is the Oregon Legislature’s disinvestment in higher education, I believe neither the OSU administration nor the Oregon Legislature is doing enough to prevent tuition increases.
The state’s monetary disinvestment and OSU’s lack of leadership behind the movement to eliminate the need for tuition increases is forcing students to cover the financial difference. Tuition increases determine whether a graduating high school senior believes that higher education is for them, whether a potential transfer student is confident that attending this university is worth the loans, and whether students struggling to pay for food, let alone books, are able to continue in their studies.
I know there are many cost drivers appearing to force OSU tuition increases, like state disinvestment in higher education and rising personnel costs, including PERS and PEBB contractual state benefits. But when times are tough, we tighten our belts, make difficult decisions, and say no to the bells and whistles. OSU’s administrative costs have gone up 89 percent (nearly doubled) over the past 10 years, and some students cannot even afford to pay for the textbooks needed for class.
Steve Clark, OSU Vice President for University Relations and Marketing, has called ASOSU’s call for a tuition freeze “premature.” When you are not forced to choose between paying for tuition and paying for food and rent, this would appear premature. But it breaks my heart to hear the OSU administration saying students’ advocacy for a tuition freeze is premature when students are the ones making the challenging decisions in order to stay in school and finish their degree. The student-fee funded Human Services Resource Center, through its OSU Food Pantry and MealBux programs, has helped reduce the challenges of food insecurity for students, but this is not enough. OSU students graduate with an average debt of $22,000, and this amount is increasing. A tuition freeze could help to ensure that students are not forced to drop out because they simply cannot afford to take out another loan or go another month without money for food.
Every student deserves access to a quality and affordable higher education, but this will not be a reality if the only conversation between OSU and the Oregon Legislature is about how large the tuition increase will be. The OSU administration and the Oregon Legislature are both well-aware that tuition has skyrocketed in the past several years, and yet both parties are doing little to stop this from continuing.
I thank the OSU student body for your continued commitment to my leadership here at ASOSU and at OSU. Together, let us help keep OSU affordable by calling on the OSU administration and the Oregon Legislature to freeze tuition.