On Mar. 3, the Student Voice and Transparency Act was passed by the Oregon House of Representatives for the second time and now awaits to be signed by Governor Kate Brown.
If passed, this bill will ensure that the student bodies of public universities are able to weigh in on tuition pricing. For students struggling to pay tuition, this bill could ease frustration from increasing tuition trends at colleges nationwide.
“Why wouldn’t a student want to know and have a say in the thousands of dollars they pay for their education?” Lane Community College student Ally Backes said. “A student should see what their money is going toward.”
Even though House Bill 4141 doesn’t apply to LCC because it is not a public university, many LCC students will later attend the University of Oregon, Oregon State University and other state universities. The bill will create new requirements for public universities to be able to increase tuition fees.
HB 4141 requires that the board be represented by a diverse range of individuals on campus. Students will receive direct representation by holding four of the eight spots on the Tuition Advisory Council. According to the bill, universities are required to have two students representing the student government and two students representing historically underserved students of the university.
On top of forming a council, the bill establishes limitations and restrictions on increasing tuition. Universities have to follow a detailed process in order to increase tuition over three percent and are not allowed to increase tuition more than five percent without providing mandatory material to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission for approval.
Even though Bill 4141 doesn’t affect community colleges, LCC has a similar way of setting tuition.
“In addition to the college-wide discussions referenced in board policy, students are encouraged to provide comment during Board of Education Meetings, which occur on the second Thursday of each month,” Zachary Evans, Budget and Finance Analyst at Lane, said. “The College Council Budget Development Subcommittee reserves two voting positions for Lane students, and meetings are open to all. This subcommittee, comprised of student, staff, faculty, and administrative representatives, is tasked with developing consensus budget-balancing proposals to include tuition and fee rates.”
HB 4141 could change tuition pricing in all Oregon public universities and get students directly involved in the decisions if the bill is approved and signed. The bill could have a huge impact on college students by giving them a larger voice in their education. With the bill being unanimously passed by the Senate and passed twice in the House, the only thing keeping the tuition transparency bill from being official is Governor Brown’s signature.