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March 5, 2021 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Eastern Oregon University will not raise tuition for current undergraduate students in 2021-22.
In a special meeting on March 5, EOU’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of holding tuition flat for all returning undergraduate students, on-campus and online. Trustees will vote on graduate tuition rates when they reconvene in May for the board’s regular meeting.
“This is something we can do for our students hardest hit by the pandemic,” said EOU President Tom Insko. “As Oregon’s Rural University, meeting students where they are is core to our mission and particularly this year we need to do all we can to carry out that mission and make higher education as affordable as possible.”
The decision came earlier than typical tuition announcements, Insko said, to provide greater certainty for current students and an extended opportunity for prospective students to make an informed decision. National trends show many students spending more time deciding whether to invest in higher education as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into its second year.
Nearly two-thirds of EOU students are from low-income households, identify as ethnically diverse, hail from rural areas, or are the first in their families to attend college. Data suggests that students and families from these demographics have been the most adversely impacted by the effects of COVID-19.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, EOU made one of the quickest rebounds and returned to offering in-person classes in Fall 2020. In holding tuition flat for 2021-22, Insko said the university has again chosen the more challenging path to serve its students.
“We’ve been having robust conversations with the university community about this,” Insko said. “This is a conscious choice to forgo tuition revenues that we would otherwise receive in order to prioritize our mission and direct state investment dollars to students when they most need it.”
EOU has also split online tuition into two tiers: resident and non-resident. Oregon undergraduates will not see an increase in online tuition this year, but the new non-resident rate will increase from $265 to $305 per credit. The change will only apply to incoming or new online students so existing non-resident online students will not see a rate hike. Even the higher non-resident rate is more affordable than peer institutions in the state.
Although tuition won’t go up for on-campus or online resident undergraduate students, on-campus fees are expected to increase in 2021-22. Insko said the university aims to keep future tuition increases minimal, between 1.5% and 3.5% per year. Administrators held discussions with student leaders and internal groups to garner feedback.
“This is going to take sacrifice, but we are choosing to take that considered risk and prioritize students,” Insko said.
Maintaining an affordable university education relies heavily on continued state investment. EOU and the other six public universities are working together to request a $63 million increase in the Public University Support Fund, bringing the total allocation to $900M. This moderate increase will help ensure affordability for students to access and complete a university degree.
Additional support from Sports Lottery funding and in-state tuition eligibility for COFA students also have significant impact. Insko said the move to keep tuition flat for 2021-22 increases the value of each legislative line item.
Agendas and minutes from the Board of Trustees special meeting will be available at eou.edu/governance. Learn more about the cost of attendance and apply now at eou.edu/admissions.
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