- Associated Press - Thursday, February 4, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - Students at the University of Oregon are protesting a proposed 4.7 percent tuition hike, arguing that the increase isn’t affordable.

About 50 students rallied outside the campus administration building Wednesday, undeterred by the afternoon’s rainy weather, reported The Register-Guard (https://bit.ly/1PlbJQT ). That protest was followed by a tense hour-long meeting in which students accused school officials of undermining their education.

“I work 20 hours a week on campus,” said 26-year-old Ted Yanez, a mathematics major with a wife and 1-year-old child. The tuition increase, he said, “doesn’t seem like much, but even that makes it hard to support a family.”

The UO Board of Trustees will vote in March about whether to raise tuition by 4.76 percent for in-state students and 4.46 for out-of-state students. The university’s figures show that UO has raised tuition by more than 70 percent over the past decade.

“The reason we’re increasing tuition is because our costs are going up,” Provost Scott Coltrane told students during the Wednesday meeting. He said faculty wage and benefit costs are increasing and the Oregon Legislature is steadily cutting higher education funding.

“We don’t relish raising tuition. It’s a hard decision,” he said.

But students argued that UO administrators are tone deaf to the impact of tuition increases.

“We have to look at other revenue sources,” said Shawn Stevenson, the student government finance director. According to Stevenson, the tuition increase would force students to provide 80 percent of the $15 million UO needs.

“That’s frankly not OK,” he said, suggesting capping tuition increases at 3.5 percent.

Coltrane said the decline in state higher education funding has made UO more dependent on tuition.

“That’s the reality we live in. Tuition has to pay for most of what we do,” the provost said. “I know it may not seem like it to you, but we get it. It’s not a good trajectory. We’d like to change it.”

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Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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