Tuition freezes for incoming undergraduates in Oregon universities could be one step closer to reality if House Bill 3472, heard in the Oregon Legislature this week, is passed.
The bill, which would begin a study on the plausibility of tuition freezes in the Oregon University System, had its public hearing on Wednesday, along with two other bills concerning Oregon higher education costs and student debt.
HB 3472 is currently being amended to combine with HB 2838, which proposes establishing a pilot program that would eliminate tuition for students and instead have them pay into a fund for future students’ higher education costs. According to Representative Chris Harker — a sponsor of HB 3472 and representative for District 34 — the amendments would allow the state to study what model would be best for Oregon universities.
“Currently, the Tuition Freeze and the Pay It Forward concepts are being amended into one bill that will create a Task Force to examine what will work best in Oregon,” said Harker.
Harker is optimistic about the bill’s progress after the amendments.
“That bill is anticipated to pass out of the House Higher Education Committee and on to the Ways & Means Committee,” he said.
HB 3025 was heard along with HB 2838 and 3472 on Wednesday. The bill would appropriate tax revenue into a “Next Generation Fund” to fund higher education and early childhood education programs.
According to Harker, bills proposing innovative solutions to student debt are important in reducing the price of higher education.
“Education is hugely valuable but it shouldn’t be hugely expensive,” he said.
With proposals like the tuition freeze task force, Harker said he hopes that the cost of higher education can be reduced.
“I am well aware of the rising cost of higher education and I’d like to provide financial certainty to our students,” he said.