Increase in tuition rate comes as university enrollment has been declining
By Bert Etling, Ashland.news
Trustees gave unanimous consent on a voice vote to a package of increases in student fees and tuition put together over months of meetings by its Tuition Advisory Council and signed off on by new SOU President Rick Bailey Jr.
Fall enrollees will pay more to attend Southern Oregon University in the 2022-2023 academic year, trustees decided at a board meeting Friday, April 22.
Tuition for an Oregon resident undergraduate will go up 3.98%, to a total of $9,405 for the three academic terms, up $360 from $9,045. That’s up from increases of 2.55 and 3.7% in the two prior years, but down from a 9.88% jump in 2019.
SOU’s tuition rates will remain among the lowest of Oregon’s seven public universities, the university said in a news release, and the increase for the coming year ranks near the middle of increases ranging from 3.19 to 7 percent that have been approved or proposed at the other Oregon schools for 2022-23.
Also approved for the upcoming SOU academic year was an increase in enrollment and incidental fees to $2,289 from $2,121 for the academic year, a hike of 7.92%, and in housing and meal plans. While plan costs vary, a typical room and board package will go to $15,809 from $15,222, an increase of $587, or 3.85%.
Enrollment fees, paid to help defray student health, building debt-service and technology infrastructure costs, will go to $750 a year, up $120 from $630, or 19.05%.
All told, for tuition, fees, room and board, a typical student will pay $27,503, up from $26,388, an increase of $1,115, or 4.22%.
New undergraduates will also see an increase in matriculation fees, which go toward orientation, scheduling, transcripts and other costs, to $1,050 from $900, an increase of $150 or 16.67%.
“These tuition rates are the result of a very thoughtful process, and based on many months of analysis by our students, working alongside faculty and staff members,” said Daniel Santos, chair of the SOU Board of Trustees, in a news release. “The Tuition Advisory Council members very clearly understand the needs of students and the university, and I appreciate them finding this balance between the costs of a high-quality education and affordability for our students.”
While tuition is going up, SOU enrollment has declined. The total number of students admitted in 2021 was 3,733, down 5.9% from 3,966 in 2020 and 22.2% from 5,276 in 2011. Enrollment declined in every year since then, except for in 2017, which saw an uptick of 1%.
“All students who want to improve their lives through higher education should absolutely have the opportunity to do so on our campus,” Bailey said in a prepared statement. “We are committed to innovations that will change the current funding model, which relies almost entirely on tuition revenue from students and funding from the legislature. With creative endeavors, over time, we can relieve the dependence on both.
“We are actively pursuing a variety of other revenue sources for SOU, and those could prove to be transformational for our students and the institution. In the meantime, we must do our best to balance the academic and financial interests of our students.”
The state paid for two-thirds of its universities’ operating budgets 30 years ago and tuition covered the remaining third. The ratio is now exactly opposite.
Email Ashland.news Executive Editor Bert Etling at email@example.com or call or text him at 541-631-1313.