Oregon State University Tuition Process
Tuition rates are set by the Board of Trustees. The Board's policy on the Tuition and Fee Process states that:
"Tuition and mandatory enrollment fees are established annually by the Board, generally at the Board's meeting in March or April prior to the applicable academic year. When setting tuition and fees, the Board considers a number of factors, including the desire to provide access to degree programs, create a diverse student body, maintain strong degree programs at every level, and develop and maintain the human and physical infrastructure necessary to support Oregon's educational outcome goals. The Board's commitment to maintaining the long-term quality of the university's programs for students and for the state requires a deliberate approach to managing costs, planning for inflationary increases in cost, and considering new strategic investments. The Board, based on its commitment and fiduciary duties, including managing anticipated inflationary costs increases, established the expectation that annual tuition rate increases will be between 2 and 5 percent. Changes outside this range will be considered when necessitated by external factors such as changes in state funding, costs of state-provided benefits, or reductions in program scope or costs."
The policy recognizes that there are annual increases to costs largely outside the control of the institution. These include salary increases (recently 2% to 4% annually, depending on the employee group), increases for health insurance and retirement plans (2% to 10% annually depending on rates for the state's retirement plan), and inflation on the costs of goods and services (about 2.5% this year). The aggregate cost increase is usually between 2% and 5% and, because tuition is over 60% of revenues, this places annual pressure on tuition rates. Those rate increases occur every year and can be offset some years, in part, by reductions in programs or personnel if the university chooses that path. Repeated cost reductions can, over time, harm the quality of the academic and other services the university provides students, faculty, and staff.
The President recommends tuition rate increases to the Board based on advice from the Tuition Advisory Council (TAC) of the University Budget Committee. The TAC includes student government representatives, students at large, faculty, and administrators and begins their work in fall. They review the overall budget of the institution, historical tuition and fee trends, comparative data for peer institutions, the University's budget and projected costs, anticipated state appropriation levels, and advice from the Student Budget Advisory Council (a volunteer group of students from across campus). Cost projections include the inflation components noted above, costs for any expected enrollment growth (faculty and advisors for new Ecampus growth, for example) and any new initiatives or investments (such as additional money for building repairs). Over several meetings, the TAC considers these factors and makes recommendations to the Provost and President for all tuition rates (undergraduate, graduate, differential, etc.) as well as student health fees and matriculation fee. Meeting notes and materials are posted online for the university community. The recommendations are made by the end of February and the TAC then convenes a series of forums, meetings with student groups, and solicitations for public comment through March. The President shares the feedback from those discussions with the Board, including any minority reports from the TAC.
Student incidental fees (supporting things like Rec Sports, the MU, Cultural Centers, etc.) are developed by the Student Fee Committee of ASOSU and ASCC. These groups make recommendations of fee rates to the President. With the President's approval, those recommendations are forwarded to the Board for final approval.