The Cost of Higher Ed.
by Grant Madden, EDN
The cost of higher education has become more expensive, and Eugene’s University of Oregon is leading the way seeking an increase of tuition fees by 9% for undergraduate courses. In the past five years, tuition fees in Oregon have risen by more than 50%, the largest rise of all the continental US.
The rise in fees will make the University of Oregon the highest fee University in the state, with annual fees and tuition for an undergraduate course rising to almost $9000 a year. Combined with rooms, board and text books, the costing of studying will raise to almost $21000 annually for state residents. The annual cost for out of state residents and international students rises as well, forecast to an average cost of $40000. This rise in fees puts a years worth of tertiary study almost equal to the 2010 Census Bureau’s calculation of the median Oregon household income of $48000.
The proposed increase would bring in an additional $60 million worth of income to the University system, bringing the total of state tuition fees to $803 million.
The Oregon State Board of Higher Education claims it is looking to maintain the state universities accessible and affordable, while the state government aims to ensure that 40% of Oregonians have a Bachelor’s degree by 2025.
Student bodies across the state have voiced opposition to the fees increase, with claims that the long term cost of student loans to cover the fees outweigh the financial gain of a tertiary education. Further complicating that financial strain is the Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act, which in 2005 added student loans to the lists of debts that cannot be forgiven in a bankruptcy action.
The rise in tuition fees subsequently creates an ad hoc “auction” for a college education, with positions available to the highest bidder. As the cost of education outstrips financial means, many Oregonians will forgo the opportunity to attend University, leaving multiple open positions for out of state residents. These positions can then be offered at a higher level of fees, providing more income for the Universities. The long term effect of this is that “foreign” students will arrive, obtain their education, and return to their home communities, leaving Oregon without access to the skills developed within the state.