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Tuition hikes to offset SOU shortfall

Graduates will pay more now; undergrads may see increase later From staff and wire reports

ASHLAND ' Graduate tuition at Southern Oregon University will increase by &

36;8 per credit in January to alleviate a shortfall in the 2001-03 biennial budget.

Undergraduate tuition could also increase, by &

36;3.33 a credit, if a statewide income tax hike is rejected by voters in January.

Meeting in Ashland Friday, the Oregon University System board approved budget allocations for the final year of the biennium at all seven campuses.

In addition, it set caps for emergency tuition increases should the Jan. 28 measure fail. SOU's cap was set at &

36;50 for a 15-credit term. The &

36;3.33 hike represents a 6 percent increase over the current tuition of &

36;60.13 per credit hour.

Details of the increases affecting both graduate and undergraduate tuition at all seven campuses will be set at a board meeting in Portland on Nov. 15.

The tuition hikes are the latest strategies for dealing with &

36;52 million in cuts systemwide, of which SOU took a &

36;3.5 million hit.

The January income tax hike was proposed by the Legislature to plug a shortfall of &

36;313 million in the state budget. If it fails, the Oregon University System faces another &

36;26.9 million in cuts, bringing the total for 2001-03 to &

36;78.9 million ' 9.5 percent of the system's budget.

The tuition increases would plug just a little more than half the &

36;26.9 million, OUS officials said.

University of Oregon student body President Rachel Pilliod, who also is chairman of the Oregon Student Association, said students are afraid increasing tuition will make higher education unaffordable for many in a state that already has one of the most expensive public university systems in the nation.

University officials also were unhappy with the possibility of a surcharge.

We don't like it, but we have no other place to turn, said University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer.

With record enrollment and record demand, there is no way to responsibly constrict programs, he said.

Pilliod said if the tuition increases are implemented, students need as much advance warning as possible to raise the extra money.

In other business, the board endorsed a policy that would give state university presidents greater control over courses, research and investments so they can react more quickly to market changes and hold down costs.

The flexibility program is part of an overall strategy to improve both the affordability and quality of education at Oregon's seven public universities. Key elements of the package still require approval by the Legislature.

I am hopeful but at this point, I think it is quite a stretch for our board to get this through the Legislature, said Oregon Institute of Technology President Martha Anne Dow.