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Oregon public university chancellor concerned about tuition increases

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 11:35 a.m. HST, May 12, 2013

ALBANY, Ore. >> The interim chancellor of the Oregon University system says she's worried that continuous tuition increases are going to stop enrollment growth at Oregon's public universities.

Melody Rose tells the Albany Democrat-Herald Oregon universities are hitting what she calls the "elasticity of demand." So far tuition increases averaging 6 percent a year over the past decade haven't seemed to affect demand. But there are signs that is about to change.

One of those signs is the mounting problem of student debt.

Rose says it's time for schools and the state of Oregon to try harder to address the issues of affordability. A few efforts show some promise, like online education and a plan to help high school students earn more college credit.

Innovative partnerships between high schools and community colleges such as Linn-Benton Community College allow high school students to stay for a fifth year while collecting college credit.

OSU can point to programs such as its Bridge to Success program, which pays for tuition and fees for thousands of in-state students.

Tuition increases and enrollment growth have helped boost OSU's revenue. The university collected some $30 million more revenue, a 13.9 percent increase, from those sources in fiscal year 2012 than in the previous fiscal year. OSU used some of that money to hire additional faculty and staff to handle the increasing enrollment.

Rose said part of the problem is that the Oregon University System has few other options to raise money for a system that is not adequately funded by the state.

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