One extra year of college costs students more than a 100% tuition increase

Updated with a letter in the ODE from a variety of student groups raising questions about the administration’s seriousness in consulting them about the tuition increases, here:

University of Oregon campus community,

On Jan. 4, a new term began for most students at the UO, and with that began another round of weekly talks about tuition with the Tuition & Fees Advisory Board. This board is comprised primarily of administrators and faculty, with two students appointed by students and two students appointed by the administration. At the start of the term, guaranteed tuition was off the table for 2016-2017, and administrators presented an increase of 4.7 percent for in-state students and 4.46 percent for out-of-state students. Over the course of the year, if a student were to take an average of 15 credits per term — the required amount for graduation in four years — than this would amount to an increase of about $484 for in-state students and $1,428 for out-of state students per year. Factor in the duration of loan payment and interest rates, and students will be paying this increase back for many years to come.

The student representatives, including the ASUO President Helena Schlegel, opposed this increase and looked forward to negotiating ways to adjust the budget in order to reduce the proposed tuition and fee increases. During the week of Jan. 25, the student participants left the meeting a few minutes early in order to make it to class. The rest of the group came to a consensus about the 4.7 percent increase after the student representatives left.

Both student-nominated representatives were informed on Monday, Feb. 1 that this decision had been made, as well as that all remaining TFAB meetings for the year would be canceled as they were no longer deemed necessary. …

2/7/2016: In response to popular demand I’m posting some info about the tuition increase debate.

The feds make UO post this cost of attendance information:

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But these numbers ignore the biggest component of college costs: the wages students give up by not working. Even for the lowest earning group of college majors – Humanities – the median starting salary was $36,237 last year, according to the NACE:

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So when a student takes 5 instead of 4 years to graduate, it costs them more than would a 100% increase in UO’s out-of-state tuition, or a 300% increase in in-state tuition.

This is the argument Mike Schill made to the Eugene City Club on Friday: let’s make UO cheaper by getting students graduated more quickly, rather than fighting over a 4.7% tuition increase. KVAL has video, here:

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Last year UO’s students shut down the Trustees meeting with a demonstration over tuition increases. Lillis and Coltrane looked like deer in the headlights. But this year we’ve got a President who is talking sense.

Will the students listen, or demonstrate and shut down the March 3-4 Trustee’s meeting too? Here’s the Daily Emerald’s report, more here. It turns out our students are talking sense too:

Schlegel demanded “The Three Asks,” including a 3.5 percent tuition increase for both resident and non-resident students, University’s support for the corporate tax measure and funding for the Oregon Opportunity Grant.

The “corporate tax measure” is the Better Oregon ballot initiative for a 2.5% tax on corporate sales, which would apparently increase state tax revenue by 25%. The legislature is considering a watered down version, which would still lead to significant increases in state revenue and the likelihood of more state higher education funding.

So surely this legislation is a priority for the UO Board of Trustees? Nope, not even on their list. The only tax increase that UO’s Board of Trustees want is a 1 percentage point increase in the hotel tax, to subsidize a track meet:

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So it should be an interesting Board meeting.

Strategic Planning Workshop, happening now, 12PM EMU Ballroom


Workshop 1: Tuesday, February 17, 12:00 to 2:00pm in the EMU Ballroom

Focus on: Attracting high quality, diverse students and promote student access, retention, and success; Attracting and retaining high quality, diverse faculty and staff; and Enhancing physical and IT infrastructure to ensure academic excellence.

2/17/2015:  Students not impressed with Brad Shelton’s “patronizing” TFAB presentation:

Francesca Fontana has the story in the ODE, here:

… These changes would raise the cost of a student’s credit hour by $7 for residents and $24 for nonresidents. In 2015-2016, the cost of attending UO full-time (45 credits a year) would increase by $315 for residents and $1,080 for nonresidents.

Shelton explained that there would be two increases in costs mandated by the state: a $3.5 million increase in retirement costs and $2.5 million increase health care for employees.

Many students were displeased with the proposed tuition raise. Some held signs that read the salaries for various members of the administration.

One read, “President, $440,004.”

One student in the crowd proposed lowering those salaries, saying that the president of the university earns a higher salary than the president of the Unites States. Barack Obama earns $400,000 per year for his work as commander-in-chief.

Some called for a tuition freeze. Others asked how many tuition dollars paid for lawyer’s fees duringGTFF bargaining or the UO’s pending sexual assault litigation.

Shelton did not present any information on 2014-2015 expenditures. Instead, he directed students to find them online.

2/16/2015: Shelton and Moffitt to propose 3-5% tuition increases, Monday at 2PM:

We’ve obtained a preview of Brad Shelton’s presentation:

Shelton and Moffitt  really don’t want anyone to see the budget information they are using to come up with these proposals:


Dear Mr. Harbaugh:

The University of Oregon has received your public records request for “any documents provided to the Tuition and Feed Advisory Board, from 7/1/2013 to the present”,on 11/04/2014, attached. The office has at least some documents responsive to your request. By this email, the office is providing you with an estimate to respond to your requests.

The office estimates the actual cost of responding to your request to be $474.28.

TFAB Announcement:

Dear students, parents, professors, and community members.

Monday at 2pm is the time to shine. The tuition and fees advisory board will present its suggestions for tuition and fees increases for the upcoming school year. It is your moment to make your voice heard.The meeting takes place at Lawrence 115 (UO campus). 

Spoiler Alert! They’ll propose increases between 3-5%. And they will say a lot of things about labor costs, retirement and how students need to pay for all of this :)

This is why it is very important that you take your thine this Monday and come to this meeting. We need to pack this room. Bring your homework, your grading, a late lunch or an even later breakfast, your arts and crafts projects, but please come! 

This is a great opportunity actually let administrators know how you feel about their spending priorities!!! Take your frustration off the internetzzz and bring it to the meeting. Ask critical questions and voice your concerns. 

Frances Bronet will be there, so will Brad Shelton, Robin Holmes and Jim Brooks.

We are counting on you! 

Here is a link to our Facebook event by SLAP:

In order to prepare for this meeting…

A.) SLAP is tabling tomorrow from 10-4 at the EMU Amphitheater. They are still looking for volunteers. Please come by and help our!

B.) A student group coalition (ASUO representatives, SLAPers and LESST activists) is meeting at 3pm in the Alsea room (EMU) across from Panda Express – we will work on talking points for the meeting on Monday

C.) SLAP is hosting a work and sign making party this Sunday at 2pm at the ROAR center, please contact [email protected] for more information

If you have more questions, please contact [email protected]

All the best, Judith

Good news for UO: UC system raises tuition

11/20/2014 update: The Chronicle has the story here.

Increased UC tuition and CA living costs will make UO more attractive for Californians. Couple this with the flat or declining Eugene rental rates, driven by the recent boom in city subsidized student apartment buildings and UO will be able to increase out-of-state tuition substantially. And, as explained below, this (and Connie Ballmer’s recent $25M donation for Pathways) will allow UO to increase the “discount rate” it offers to low SES and high ability students.

12/6/2014: UO’s efforts at (price) discrimination praised by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Continue reading

Hubin wants $475 to release Shelton and Moffitt’s tuition increase docs

UO’s Tuition and Fee Advisory Board has been meeting to develop new tuition and fee proposals to take to the UO Board of Governors (sic) for 2015-16. In March, the UO Board of Trustees relied on the TFAB when making its recommendation on tuition to for 2014-15 to the Oregon legislature, according to this email from Gottfredson:

Tuition and Fees
The trustees unanimously approved a recommendation of no tuition increase for in-state undergraduate students, supported by the legislatively approved tuition buy down. The board did recommend other tuition and fee increases. Prior to the trustees’ action, the tuition proposal was reviewed publicly in the Finance and Facilities Committee and by theTuition and Fee Advisory Board. The trustees are required by law to submit tuition and fee proposals to the Oregon State Board of Higher Education (SBHE) by April 4. The timing of the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board recommendation and deadlines of the SBHE, HECC and legislative budgeting requirements, unfortunately, necessitated that the trustees meet during spring break to review the proposals, a schedule which the board hopes to avoid in the future.

This seems like an important matter for a public university to be transparent about.  The TFAB’s website is here:

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So, let’s get some of the documents they’ve been using at these meetings out to the public: Seems like a simple enough public records request.

Subject: public records request, Tuition and Fee Advisory Board
Date: October 31, 2014 at 4:50:19 PM PDT
Cc: [email protected], Brad Shelton <s[email protected]>
To: Lisa Thornton <[email protected]>

Dear Ms Thornton:

This is a public records request for any documents provided to the Tuition and Feed (sic) Advisory Board, from 7/1/2013 to the present. I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest.

I’m ccing the co-chairs of the board, as they should have this material easily at hand.


Bill Harbaugh
UO Prof of Economics

But no response from VPFA Moffitt or VPR Brad Shelton. A week later, President Coltrane’s Public Records sends me this:


Dear Mr. Harbaugh:

The University of Oregon has received your public records request for “any documents provided to the Tuition and Feed Advisory Board, from 7/1/2013 to the present”, on 11/04/2014, attached. The office has at least some documents responsive to your request. By this email, the office is providing you with an estimate to respond to your requests.

The office estimates the actual cost of responding to your request to be $474.28. Upon receipt of a check made payable to the University of Oregon for that amount, the office will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure. Your check may be sent to the attention of Office of Public Records, 6207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-6207.

The university has received your request for a fee waiver for these records. The decision to waive or reduce fees is discretionary with the public body. After considering your request, the office does not consider that the totality of the circumstances you presented meets the standard for a fee waiver.

… Thank you for contacting us with your request.


Lisa Thornton
Office of Public Records
University of Oregon
Office of the President

Not exactly the sort of transparency I’ve been hoping for from Coltrane.

UO’s "Cadillac administrative costs"

6/24/2013: Or maybe the preferred nomenclature should be “BMW administrative costs”. Thanks to a reader for the link. More here, this data is from IPEDS and does not count the last year or two of new UO administrative excesses. The last column gives “Institutional support” per student FTE. That is the IPEDS category for central administrative costs.

Trimming UO’s bloated central administration down to OSU levels would save UO 24,000 x $770 = $18.5 million per year, recurring.

And I wonder if we’re counting the $1.83M athlete-only Jaqua tutoring costs under “Academic support”?

More good UO financial news

6/24/2013: Diane Dietz of the RG had a good story on the Eugene student rental market last year, suggesting overbuilding and falling rents for students. (I’d linked to a plagiarized version of this story earlier. Sorry!)

6/23/2013: It’s an open question as to how necessary they were, but the city of Eugene has offered a variety of subsidies for large student-type apartment buildings, around campus and downtown. The 2400 student downtown Capstone project is the big example, but other, smaller projects have added at least as much capacity.

According to Zillow, (click to see their most excellent Eugene data) rents in Eugene are well below the levels in our competitor college towns such as Boulder, Seattle, Phoenix, and LA. In contrast to hose towns, the increase in the supply has kept rents level in Eugene, despite the increase in the number of students. The new construction coming on line this fall may well lead to rent decreases.

Because parents look at the total cost of attendance, this means that UO has plenty of room to continue tuition increases, while staying competitive in the market for out-of-state students.

US Zillow Rent Index

OUS board give UO cops guns, raises UO student’s tuition to pay for them.

6/22/2013: Two stories from Eder Campuzano in the ODE: GunsTuition. How much will the conversion to an armed UOPD cost overall? Frances Dyke told the legislature it would be something like $66K. At one point she told the students and faculty it would save $76K.

Jamie Moffitt won’t explain what happened – she walked out of the meeting where I tried to get an answer – but my quesstimate is closer to $1-$2 million a year in new costs, recurring. The lesson? Never believe the numbers that come out of the VPFA’s office.

In utterly unrelated news, VP for enrollment Roger Thompson has an op-ed in the RG on UO’s efforts to keep college affordable.

Oregon Commentator hears Bean on tuition increases

3/16/2013: What is Jim Bean going to do to justify his last 16 months of feeding at the Johnson Hall sugar tit, at $27K a month? It seems to involve badly organized efforts to try and lobby students to support tuition increases. Nick Ekblad of the OC has the scoop:

Tuition increase as proposed by Jim Bean and Brad Shelton

March 15th, 2013 by Nick Ekblad

I received this email today at 12:35pm, opened it around 2pm and hopped over to the meeting in question:

Just a reminder of the meeting TODAY in Jacqua Auditorium.
“Students are invited to attend a meeting with University Administration to discuss tuition proposals for the 2013-2014 academic year. The meeting is set for Friday, March 15 from 2:00-3:00pm in the Jacqua Center Auditorium. Students are also welcome to provide written feedback anytime before 5:00pm on Monday, March 18th by sending it to [email protected]

Here are my notes:

I thought it was particularly funny that they hosted this in the Jock Box. The projected utility cost per year of the University of Oregon is 18 million dollars and going up one million every year. I chuckled to myself and then the wall behind all those bunched up letters changed colors.  … And finally, the quote of the day, Jim Bean says, “If people cared about education as much as they cared about prisons in this state, legislators would lobby for it.”

James Madison, 1822: "The Tuition is Too Damn High"

I don’t think I know any of them, but congratulations to the “The Tuition is Too Damn High” students. The ODE story on their meeting with Bob Berdahl and Jamie Moffitt here. The RG story is here. It sounds like they asked some informed, tough questions – some of which came from this blog. The statement at the top of this blog is from a letter by James Madison to a Kentucky legislator, congratulating him on that state’s subsidies of higher education:

The liberal appropriations made by the Legislature of Kentucky for a general system of Education cannot be too much applauded. A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

Learned Institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty & dangerous encroachments on the public liberty. …

Without such Institutions, the more costly of which can scarcely be provided by individual means, none but the few whose wealth enables them to support their sons abroad can give them the fullest education; and in proportion as this is done, the influence is monopolized which superior information every where possesses….

 A system comprizing the Learned Institutions may be still further recommended to the more indigent class of Citizens by such an arrangement as was reported to the General Assembly of Virginia, in the year 1779, by a Committee appointed to revise laws in order to adapt them to the genius of Republican Government. It made part of a “Bill for the more general diffusion of knowledge” that wherever a youth was ascertained to possess talents meriting an education which his parents could not afford, he should be carried forward at the public expence, from seminary to seminary, to the completion of his studies at the highest.

I don’t know what kind of run-around our students got from Berdahl and Moffitt, but if it’s anything like the one Moffitt gave the IAC last year, I suggest they keep digging. And for the sake of UO, I hope Moffitt stops – that athletics hole is deep enough already. 6/8/2012.

The Tuition is Too Damn High

The ODE has the story, with video:

Most of the staff and administrators had cleared out prior to students entering except for President Berdahl himself and a few of his staff. Berdahl spoke with students on why tuition increases needed to be implemented as well as other issues surrounding state funding. Berdahl was successful at easing student frustration by agreeing to a meeting. Berdahl said he would meet with a group of 12-15 students Thursday as long as “it doesn’t turn into a shouting match,” he said.

… “An institutional board that cares about this institution and is committed to this institution and works with the administration, will inspire the confidence of donors about the commitment to excellence this institution has,” Berdahl said. “If we can build our endowment so that there is a lot more financial aid available, and a central part of any capital campaign we have going forward is to raise scholarships.”

I’d have a lot more confidence in the idea of an independent board if the UO Foundation, the closest current equivalent, had a better track record on scholarships and transparency. BTW, The Faculty Pay is Too Damn Low. 6/6/2012.

Yes, tuition to increase

Update: 6/1/2012: Colton Totland reports in the RG that OUS has figured out how to pay for Provost Bean’s beamer and sabbatical, and Pernsteiner’s mortgage too. Still no plan from UO to increase faculty hiring or build new classrooms. Pathetic.

5/30/2012: The ODE reports:

The University will submit it’s proposal for a 6.1 percent tuition increase for resident undergraduates amounting to $459 hike from the 2011-12 academic year. Non-resident undergraduate rates are proposed to raise by only 3.6 percent, but due to a higher base number, the dollar amount is larger landing at a $945 hike on an already expensive $27,653. 

In totally unrelated news BMW announced price increases last month. The costs of taking your family to away games has also shot up, and maid service on an 8,200 sq ft house is never cheap.

Bill Graves has more in the Oregonian, including some tricky stuff on student health insurance fees at PSU. ODE editorial here.

effective giving

9/16/2011: From the RG. This is a very smart gift:

A University of Oregon graduate is donating $5 million to provide scholarships to a group that she says is often overlooked — the children of middle class families.

“I wanted to help Oregonians caught in the middle,” alumna and longtime donor Mary Corrigan Solari said in a written statement. “I have been acutely aware of the many middle class parents who have been struggling to finance their children’s education.”

The Mary Corrigan and Richard Solari Scholarships will be for $5,000 a year, renewable for a maximum of four years. UO undergraduate resident tuition and fees amount to $8,190 this year.

Why not give it to low income students? It’s very hard to give college money to low income students. More precisely, if you give them money the federal government reduces their Pell grants, pretty much dollar for dollar.

There are plenty of middle class kids who are not eligible for the maximum Pell, but who still need help paying for college – the threshold for maximum Pell was ~$40,000 family income, last I looked.

A $5 million endowment means about $200,000 a year, or about 80 of these $5,000 scholarships. (See comments.) Big money. More smart Oregon students will choose to come to UO.

Tuition, more jock stuff, faculty raises.

6/5/2010: The OUS press report on increased tuition and approval of the latest sports project from Phil Knight here. Bill Graves on the tuition increases is here. The Oregonian story by Rachel Bachman on the sports construction is here:

As the clock ticked on Friday’s meeting of the State Board of Higher Education, University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere warned of a chill on donations if the board did not approve a plan by Phil Knight to privately construct an 80,000-square-foot operations center for the Ducks football team on campus. “If we don’t accept this gift, what will be the negative consequences for the university’s education and research mission?” Lariviere said. “Probably not much — immediately, in the short-term. “But they could be really, really profound over the longer term. Really profound. This is an important gift for our future.”

When Lariviere finished his remarks, which came at the end of a nearly one-hour discussion of the project, the board hushed. Then the 12-member body swiftly and approved the project with the minimum six “yes” votes, plus four abstentions and two absentees.

Lariviere’s comments were some of the starkest ever used by a public official in an open forum to illustrate the stakes of the relationship between Knight, the Nike co-founder and former Ducks runner, and his alma mater. …

This latest request came with urgency: The board had to vote on granting a license for the project despite discussing it for the first time on Friday.

“If it’s not approved today, that’s the end of the deal,” Lariviere told the board.

It was the second time a large project backed by Knight came with a quick deadline for public approval. His $100 million pledge to support debt payments for the construction of Matthew Knight Arena was contingent on the Legislature approving $200 million in state bonds for the project by June 1, 2008. That fact came to light on Feb. 9, 2008 — 20 days before the end of the only legislative session that year. 

I hope I’m wrong, but the prospects for faculty pay raises this year seem pretty dim. UO has the money, and Lariviere keeps arguing publicly that we can’t continue to pay 82% of our peers. I am sure this is his “top priority.” But you can only go to the Board so many times and tell them things like “If it’s not approved today, that’s the end of the deal.”

He has been spending his political capital on the $1 billion bond proposal, and now this new athletic construction. Our chance probably passed back in April, when he was busy dealing with Bellotti and Grier. I’m not blaming this on Lariviere – he seems to be doing what he can do. But why does Knight put him on the spot like this? Do this right now, or else! And you will pay for a football museum curator too! It’s just weird.

OUS Board meetings

6/3/2010: The OUS Board typically has one faculty member. The new appointment is Lynda Ciuffetti, Botany and Plant Pathology at OSU. Her research “…is in the area of host-pathogen interactions, specifically, interactions involving fungal pathogens.”  That should give her a lot of extra insight into the OUS Chancellor and Board’s role in Oregon higher education. Interestingly, the current Lariviere restructuring proposal would not put a faculty member on the UO Board.

The OUS Board meets in executive session today, to discuss presidential evaluations. (Wow, UO should try evaluating its administrators someday.) There are plenty of possibilities that could justify a 6 hour board session. I hope one of them is what to do about letting boosters supplement presidential salaries and give them side gifts. Tomorrow they take up two topics of interest:

c.    OUS, 2010-11 Proposed Tuition and Fee Rate and Policy Changes.
Staff is requesting Board approval of proposed OUS tuition and fee rates as well as related policies for the 2010-11 Academic Year.  The RG has a story about these increases here:

… push the annual base cost of an education to $8,190 for resident undergraduates, up from the current $7,428. The difference between those two figures is more than 10 percent. But the actual increase in out-of-pocket costs is close to 6 percent because the UO is taking some fees that are now charged separately and rolling them into tuition.

d.    UO, Approval of License Agreement for (Gift of) an Addition to the Len Casanova Athletic Center and of a Soccer and Lacrosse Complex. The University of Oregon (UO) seeks Board approval to enter into a License Agreement (Agreement) with Phit, LLC (Phit), permitting the construction of improvements to real property with a value in excess of $5 million.

This is another Phil Knight gift to the athletic department. Donations to athletics are still tax-deductible, so this will cost taxpayers ~2.5 million. Some universities would impose their own tax on these sorts of donations, with the proceeds going to academics. Not UO. At least Lariviere is insisting that this time athletics pays for the parking – a small improvement over Frohnmayer’s “Negotiating for Dummies” approach.