Students protest tuition increases at UO

Students protest tuition increases at UO »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. - Dana Rognlie is fed up with high tuition costs.

"My friends are riddled with debt," she said.

And the University of Oregon graduate student said she's not alone: Dozens of students and faculty rallied at the University of Oregon's EMU Amphitheater Wednesday over high tuition costs.

"This year's seniors are paying 40 to 45 percent more in tuition than they were as incoming freshman, and this is a problem," she said.

They held signs, chanted and listened to student and faculty speakers talk about rising tuition costs. Congressman Peter Defazio also made an appearance.

Rognlie said tuition rates increased 9 percent for the 2011/2012 school year and 6.1 percent for the 2012/2013 school year.

"We need a tuition freeze," she said. "You know we need to know where tuition is going."

According to University of Oregon Senior Vice President and Provost Jim Bean, in 2008 the average cost of tuition for an undergrad was just under $9,000. Today, it's around $12,000, and it's something he agreed needs to be addressed.

"It's really threatening the American dream of the ability to go to public higher education," he said. "It's a problem that's much larger than the U of O or the State of Oregon. It's really a national problem."

Bean said during its last campaign, the school raised $100 million dollars for scholarships for students, including those coming from lower-income families. Something to help combat tuition costs.

"We're doing very well for the lower, less advantaged socio-economic groups and of course wealthy students can afford to pay the tuition, the middle class is under great pressure," said Bean. "That's why this year we introduced the Solari scholarships that are aimed precisely at that middle class."

He said the rising cost of tuition is indeed a problem, and the school needs to do their part in controlling costs.

"It's also important for us to raise private giving to help subsidize education for students who have difficulty paying," he said.

But he said when it comes to tuition, Oregon is not as bad off as some schools.

"If you look at the increases at UW or Berkeley, you'll see they've been much larger than we have the last five years."