Tuition decision takes a turn

A tuition increase of $3 per credit was approved with a narrow 4-3 vote by Lane’s Board of Education on June 8, 2016, which reverses its previous decision to freeze tuition rates in April. The increase will take effect at the start of the 2016-17 school year. Full-time students taking 12 credits will see a $36 increase per term, taking the total in state tuition for 12 credits from $1,194 to $1,230 per term.

Lane Community College Education Association (LCCEA) president, Jim salt, was one of two people who spoke in favor of the tuition hike at the board meeting.

“What we need to do is have a system that supports all of our needs as a whole,” Salt argued. “We can’t budget based upon individual students who this system isn’t supporting.”

Salt discussed a sheet, passed out at the beginning of the meeting by Mary Spilde, that outlined the student cost of the proposed increase as well as prospective increases to certain grants that are offered through financial aid for the next year. According to this document the hike will increase the total cost of tuition for one full-time student for one year at 12 credits per term from $15,655 to $15,763. The document also states that the Pell Grant, Oregon Opportunity Grant, Oregon Promise, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant and Federal Work Study will all have increases for the next year — supposedly covering the tuition increase for the students who qualify for those grants.

Four students opposed the tuition increase telling their personal stories about paying for school out of pocket. Mariana Paredones, was one of those four students. She brought in 150 student pledges that pleaded against a tuition increase.

“I have previous knowledge that there’s a lot of hesitation because of IP [Initiative Petition] 28 not passing or potentially not passing,” Paredones said. Initiative Petition 28, better known as “A Better Oregon,” is a petition to put a corporate tax income on the ballot for Oregon voters. If the measure were to pass it would raise money for the state’s general fund which could then potentially go to help community colleges like Lane.

“I personally feel that to make a decision prior to another decision that’s still pending is kind of silly,” Paredones said.“We’re not going to know those answers until after that happens.”

Before the decision to re-vote on the proposed tuition hike, board member Gary LeClair spoke about his reasoning for changing his vote.

“I initially voted against this [a tuition increase], but I think I did so without good information,” Leclair said.“It’s $108 more if we raise the tuition. That’s hardly a big thing on a $15,000 budget.”

Board member Rosie Pryor also voiced her reasoning behind staying with her original vote to not increase tuition.

“My position about this tuition increase is based on a philosophy that community colleges were created in this country to represent an affordable alternative to the rapidly increasing costs of public and private four year institution college educations,” Pryor said.

Board members Gary LeClair, Matt Keating, Phil Carrasco and Tony McCown voted in favor of the increase, with Sharon Stiles, Susie Johnston and Rosie Pryor opposing the increase. The next board meeting will take place in building 3 on Lane’s main campus on July 13 at 6:30 pm.