Board likely to pass $3 tuition hike;Tuition will account for 12 percent of budget

Mary Spilde, Lane presidentPhoto: Torch archive

Mary Spilde, Lane president
Photo: Torch archive

The Board of Education is likely to approve a $3-per-credit tuition increase at its June 11 meeting, which will bring the cost of attending Lane to $98 per credit for the 2014-15 school year.

The increase is part of a $302.7 million budget proposal approved by the Budget Committee at its May 28 meeting. Chris Matson was the only committee member to vote against the proposal.

This year, the school received $38 million — or 14 percent of its income — in tuition revenue. According to the proposal, Lane will receive $32.7 million — or 12 percent of its income — in tuition revenue next year, although this is based on a projected 12 percent enrollment drop.

Because a majority of the Board of Education members sit on the committee, and they unanimously voted to approve this proposal, the board is likely to adopt this budget, Lane President Mary Spilde said after the meeting.

In an April 30 update posted to the Lane Community College Education Association’s website,
LCCEA President Jim Salt announced that faculty members no longer have to worry about closure of programs and layoffs because of the tuition increase.

“We believe that a great mistake has been (narrowly) averted,” he wrote.

The closure of programs, and the laying off of faculty members and staff, would have had drastic negative impacts on Lane, Salt wrote. Students would have diminished access to the programs that fund Lane — the “life’s work” of faculty and staff.

Budget Committee members agreed that next year’s budget issues are prologue.

“The future conversation (about the budget) should not be just on pieces of the pie, but on a whole new pie altogether,” board member Matt Keating said.

Furthermore, some committee members said students, faculty members and staff need to work collectively to bring funding concerns up to the Oregon Legislature. Only three states contribute less to higher education than Oregon.

Paul Zito, former student government President, told the committee that students support the tuition hike, as a compromise — they want to work together with the entire school to lobby the Oregon Legislature.

Zito’s term ended May 31 and Associated Students of Lane Community College President Michael Weed took office the next day.

The student government had voted earlier on capping any tuition increase at $1.88, an amount that, once exceeded, could drive a student’s tuition cost past the amount of a Pell Grant award, but the senate recently voted to approve the $3 increase.

“My understanding is that it (a tuition increase of $3 per credit) will not exceed the Pell Grant,” Weed said. “It is really close. It will put it right around there.”

Cutting programs, versus increasing tuition, could hurt Lane’s image and create a “cascading effect” in which the school falls into a downward spiral, Weed said in an interview.

“Where do we draw the line?” he asked. “Do we cut the school down to where it isn’t worth going here anymore?”

(Managing Editor Sean Hanson contributed to this report.)