Thursday, August 6, 2020
Aug. 6, 2020

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UO considers adopting a tuition guarantee program

Plan aims to retain students with five-year fix on rates


EUGENE, Ore. — Lindsay Luallen chose to move from Alabama to enroll at the University of Oregon five years ago because the university was able to accommodate the fact that she only had herself to rely on for financial support. She hadn’t lived at home since she was 16 years old.

At the time, she was met with support from the university and able to afford college. But since then, years of tuition increases have forced her to take minimal classes, forego internship opportunities and make tough choices about where the extra tuition money would come from.

“I look at my finances week to week, month to month and year to year,” Luallen said. “With the tuition increases, it’s just a little harder to plan because I don’t know what they’re going to do next. What am I going to have to take out of next? Am I going to have some skimp on the car payment? I don’t know.”

Since the 2009-2010 school year, annual tuition costs at University of Oregon have increased by about $3,500 for in-state students and $7,380 for out-of-state students, according to UO data adjusted for inflation.

As these rising costs weigh on students’ shoulders and UO administrators plan for next year, the university is considering a tuition guarantee model that would, if moved forward, fix tuition costs for students for five years to eliminate the uncertainty and increased financial burden.

It’s a change that the university hopes will give students and families peace of mind while improving its recruiting power and retention. But those benefits also carry a significant risk for the UO’s bottom line, leaving it one less tool to manage its budget.

At the Dec. 10 UO Board of Trustees meeting, Jamie Moffitt, vice president for finance and administration, gave a presentation updating the board on the university’s financial standing that included a conceptual discussion about a tuition guarantee.

The presentation provided the board members a basic structure of the tuition guarantee model so they could determine if staff should continue developing the idea along with the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board.

It did not include any dollar amounts for what the set tuition rate would be. However, it did state whatever rate was decided would be fixed for five years.

All students who enter the UO in fall 2021, for example, would pay the same amount each year until graduating in 2026.