This FAQ describes the guaranteed tuition program that is being recommended by the Tuition and Fee Advisory Board (TFAB) to the university president. The TFAB is a group of students, faculty, and staff that reviews and discusses relevant data and budgetary information related to tuition, but does not have formal decision-making authority. Its recommendations were formulated during a series of 11 public meetings, starting last fall.
The UO Board of Trustees will ultimately determine the specific parameters of the UO’s tuition program and rates for next year, after considering the recommendations of the president.
How would a guaranteed tuition program work?
All new undergraduate students entering the university would be charged a set tuition rate (per student credit hour or SCH) that would remain fixed or “locked” for five years.
Mandatory fees that are administratively controlled, tuition differentials for the Clark Honors College and the Lundquist College of Business, summer tuition rates, and the international student fee would also be fixed for that same time period for new undergraduate students.
Resident and nonresident undergraduate students would have distinct tuition rates that would be guaranteed.
Why is the university considering this change and why now?
This proposed program is intended to allow students and their families to better plan for the cost of earning a degree at the University of Oregon. It would eliminate the current practice of annual tuition increases for individual students.
Providing financial certainty with a guaranteed tuition program would help recruit students to the university and eliminate a barrier to their continued enrollment.
The university is considering the change now as a way to help students and families best prepare for the cost of higher education, given the significant investment it represents today.
Would guaranteed tuition be implemented for all current undergraduate students as well as incoming students?
No. Instead, TFAB is recommending the university lock in fixed, modest annual tuition increases for existing undergraduate students to ensure an equitable transition into the program. More details below.
If guaranteed tuition is implemented, what is my tuition rate going to be next year, under TFAB’s proposal?
All existing resident and nonresident undergraduate students would have locked tuition increases of 3 percent per year for up to four years.
Those increases would be much lower than what students at the UO have seen on average annually over the past decade. The 10-year average annual tuition increase for resident students has been 5.4%; the 10-year average annual tuition increase for non-resident students has been 4.3%.
If existing students take longer than an additional four years to graduate, they would then be fully folded in to the new guaranteed tuition program and its rates.
Because new students would have a tuition rate that does not change for five years under the guaranteed program, their initial tuition increase for the 2020-21 academic year would be larger.
TFAB is recommending a tuition increase of 10.75 percent for new resident students and 7.5 percent for new nonresident students. Tuition for that student cohort would then stay locked at that rate for five years.
Tuition rates for subsequent new student cohorts would be set every year following a public process and final approval by the UO Board of Trustees.
Under the program, would all undergraduate students at the UO pay the same tuition rate as each other?
No. Tuition would be locked in for all new students for five years. But each incoming class cohort would have a different set tuition rate.
Does the university anticipate that, under the program, the tuition set for future years’ incoming student cohorts will increase as much as the proposed rate for the new 2020-21 cohort?
No — a higher tuition rate for incoming students was required to initiate the program. Going forward, we anticipate that the difference between one cohort’s tuition rate and the next will be lower and similar to the annual increases we have seen in the past. Over the last five years, our annual increases for undergraduate students have been 5% for residents and 3.3% for non-residents.
Tuition rates for the incoming class cohort will still vary year-to-year depending on the university’s budgetary situation and could increase more if there is a major projected deficit.
Rates would continue to be set each year by the Board of Trustees after the university goes through its established tuition setting process.
What happens with a student’s locked tuition rate after five years?
If a student is unable to complete their degree within five years, that student would then pay the tuition rate paid by the class cohort behind them, in their sixth year at UO. If it takes seven years, the rate is equal to the class after that, and so on.
The five-year tuition lock is also beneficial to some non-traditional students, who may take longer to graduate. Those students, under the current floating tuition model, are the ones who face the largest number of annual tuition increases.
The graph below shows what a new non-traditional student graduating in eight years would pay in tuition under the current annual increase model versus the proposed guaranteed model:
Are there exceptions?
Time that UO students spend serving active duty in the U.S. Military or National Defense Services would be exempt for the five-year guaranteed tuition window. Time in exchange or study abroad programs would be counted and not be exempt.
What tuition rate would transfer students pay?
New transfer students would pay the same tuition rate as the freshman cohort in the year they enroll at the UO. That guaranteed rate would then be locked for the same five-year period as the freshmen.
Which fees would be included in the guarantee? Which aren’t?
All mandatory fees directly controlled by the university administration would be included in the guaranteed tuition program. That includes the EMU and Rec Center fees, the Health Service Fee, the Technology Fee, and the Building Fee. The Incidental Fee, managed by the Associated Students of the University of Oregon, would not be included in the program.
Differential tuition – for both the Honor’s College and the Business School – as well as the international student fee are also included in the program. Individual course fees are not included in the program.
Would Pathway Oregon recipients be negatively affected by guaranteed tuition?
The UO would continue to cover tuition and fees for all Pathway Oregon award recipients through a combination of federal grants, state grants, and university scholarships. Pathway Oregon recipients would not have to pay back these grants and scholarships and their scholarship support would not be impacted by the guaranteed program.
Would a guaranteed tuition program create some risk for the university?
Yes. Locking in tuition rates means the university has fewer short-term options to address a major budget shortfall, caused, for example, by a potential decrease in state funding during an economic recession. For that reason, if a guaranteed tuition program is adopted, TFAB is recommending that the university establish a reserve fund to help support it.
The reserve fund would act like an insurance policy to help preserve university programs and enable the institution to implement this new tuition structure which protects individual students from multiple years of large tuition increases.
If the guarantee were in place, is there any circumstance where the university could still raise tuition on students already in the program?
No. The power of guaranteed tuition is the power of its promise to students that their tuition rates are locked in for a set number of years. The university would treat the guarantee as a contractual obligation to students.
Are graduate students impacted by the guaranteed tuition program?
No. Graduate tuition will continue to go through the current tuition setting process as part of TFAB. Additional information and specific proposals about graduate tuition can be found on tuition setting timeline.
Has a final decision been made yet?
No. The TFAB recommendations will now go to President Michael Schill. The President will hold a student forum Feb. 24 and collect input from the forum, as well as written public comments, before he makes his recommendation on tuition and fee rates to the UO Board of Trustees. The Board will review proposals in their March meeting. There will be many opportunities for community feedback on this concept.