Let's collaborate to promote college affordability

Lynn Russo Whylly's picture

College students recently testified before the Oregon Legislature, and the pain of increasing tuition was clear on their faces, stressed from overworking, overborrowing and the constant worry that the next bill may be the tipping point.

Many economic strains have led to today's college costs, including students now covering over 70 percent of the cost of their education at Oregon's public universities, a complete flip from 20 years ago when the state covered that much. While not alone, Oregon remains in the bottom 10 nationally for student funding, a T-shirt slogan that we're not proud of: We're 44th.

The context is complex, but a few facts help: The $668 million in state funding the Oregon University System received for 2011-13 is less than the $755 million (unadjusted) that it received in 1999-2001, and our campuses are educating 34,000 more students now than they did then. That's the equivalent of adding two more universities the size of Portland State and Oregon Tech to the system.

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