Boost college funding

By Observer editorial May 16, 2013 01:15 pm
It’s time for Oregon to recognize the importance of quality, affordable higher education. It’s time to get Oregon back to being a national leader, as the state was in the bottle bill and the beach bill, and not under threat of winning the national higher education funding tail-end award. That’s embarrassing.

As Melody Rose, interim chancellor of the Oregon University System, says, Oregon is in danger of falling hopelessly behind almost every state in terms of the higher education opportunities it offers students.

Something must be done soon. Now.

Oregon ranks 44th in the nation in state funding per student. The low ranking in state funding per student reflects a trend of disinvestment in higher education.

For years now, Eastern Oregon University students have faced costs that far exceed inflation. Resident undergraduate tuition and fees, in real dollars, is almost twice as expensive as they were in 1992. That won’t do.

Some people will say, welcome to the real world. Tax money does not grow on trees, especially ones that people are no longer allowed to harvest.  The state is coming out from under a recession. Money is tight. 

The OUS receives $668 million in state funding per biennium, $89 million less than in 1999-01 when it had 34,000 fewer students. That’s scary. A quality, affordable education equals economic opportunity. Strong schools attract business. An education investment now saves higher costs later. We can do better.