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Infusion of state money means PSU will raise tuition less than planned

TRIBUNE PHOTO: SHASTA KEARNS MOORE - Portland State University students, such as these pictured during a June 14 graduation ceremony at the Moda Center, will see their tuition rise less than the 4.2 percent planned thanks to extra money from the state.

After the 2015 Oregon Legislature adjourned Monday with $30 million in extra funds for the state’s seven public universities, Portland State University President Wim Wiewel said he would use the additional money to lessen the blow of a planned rate increase.

"I want to thank the Legislature for recognizing the need to invest in the success of our students," Wiewel said.

Lowering the planned tuition rate hike was in line with a promise Wiewel made after the Board of Trustees approved the 4.2 percent increase in March to keep up with rising staff costs.

Despite loud student protests during the board meeting, the planned tuition hike was approved and would have resulted in an annual tuition bill for full-time undergraduates of $8,124, an increase of $330.

Officials did not specify what the new, lower tuition rate increase would be, but said the new rate would need to be approved by the board as well. The Higher Education Coordinating Commission, under the Oregon Education Investment Board umbrella, will determine what portion of the $700 million allocated by the legislature will go to each public university, likely around September.

A PSU spokesman said the public universities actually needed $85 million to reach pre-recession budget levels, once the figures are adjusted for inflation. “The cuts have resulted in Oregon ranking near the bottom nationally for state support at No. 47,” said Scott Gallagher in a news release.

For PSU, the legislature also approved a $60 million bond for the renovation of Neuberger Hall, built in the 1960s; $50 million bond for Broadway Student Housing complex and $10 million for the purchase of land near the University Center Building.

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