PSU Board of Trustees votes to raise tuition by 3.95 percent

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A Board of Trustees vote on a proposed increase in tuition at Portland State University has been delayed.

At a meeting Thursday morning, the Board was set to consider a proposed 5 percent tuition increase for the 2018-2019 school year for resident undergraduate students.

While a presentation of the suggested hike was given, at least two dozen PSU students with signs opposing the hike also stood surrounding listening board members.

NOW: @Portland_State Board of Trustees to vote on proposed 5% tuition increase for next year. Room is packed - students holding signs advocating against hike. Strike planned if tuition increase is approved. PSU blames increase on budget shortfall due to “under-funding” by state.— Tyler Dumont FOX 12 (@TylerDumontNews) April 12, 2018

“A lot of the cost drivers here at Portland State are beyond the control of the university,” Board of Trustees Chairman Rick Miller told FOX 12. “For example, pension costs. And so, as those cost drivers impact the financials of this university, unfortunately, those costs have to be borne by the students.”

According to a PSU spokesperson, Miller also said a tuition increase “needs to be less” than 5 percent.

In a statement to FOX 12, the university said in-part, “PSU faces difficult budget choices mainly because of a long history of under-funding by the state combined with rising costs of employee salaries, benefits and pensions … We understand student concerns about affordability and are committed to providing support to students of all backgrounds and incomes while also working to protect the quality of our academic programs. We also encourage students to talk with state officials to provide more financial support for higher education.”

Tuition must be set this spring in order for students to know what the rates will be and how that will impact their financial aid, the university said.

Students attending Thursday’s board meeting spoke during an allotted public comment in opposition to any increase in tuition, citing steep personal financial struggles they already face. They also told the board about their fears if they were forced to pay more.

“The higher the tuition gets, the more inaccessible it gets,” student Abigail Lopez-Gay told FOX 12. “And it’s going to be inaccessible first to the people who are most financially disadvantaged. Though, it does effect everybody. It’s going to become a community issue. It’s not just a student issue.”

Lopez-Gay was part of a student group that had planned a strike if the board voted in support of the increase. The protest’s organizers had asked their peers to cut classes and attend an afternoon rally.

As a result of the vote to postpone, budget officials will now have to review potential revenue and spending proposals for the 2018-19 budget and return to trustees in two weeks with a new proposal, PSU officials said.

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