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4 public universities seeking tuition hikes

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Four of Oregon's public universities will defend substantial tuition increases this week in front of the Higher Education Coordinating Commission amid protests from frustrated students.

The University of Oregon is proposing a 9.7% increase, the Oregon Institute of Technology seeks a 9% increase, Portland State University wants an 11% increase and Southern Oregon University is looking at a 13.5% jump, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Monday.

The commission must OK tuition hikes of more than 5% and Portland State students have vowed to express their anger at a tuition hike approved by the school's board at the commission meeting Thursday.

Oregon State, as well as Eastern and Western Oregon universities, approved increases that are less than 5%.

Western Oregon's increase was the smallest, at just over 2%.

The commission recently approved criteria to decide whether a university tuition increase is "appropriate."

In reviewing tuition increases, the commission will determine whether students were included in the tuition-setting process, the impact of a tuition hike on underrepresented students and whether financial stability is dependent on a tuition hike.

University administrators say if state lawmakers dedicate more money to universities, tuition hikes would be smaller.

At the Portland State Board of Trustees meeting in May, the school's vice president of government relations mentioned a potential tour of Oregon's public universities for legislators, similar to a tour of K-12 schools that led to a greater focus on funding and improvements for students.

"We know that we are systemically underfunded in the same way K-12 is," Kevin Neely said, according the station.