EUGENE, Ore. — An audit of the Oregon University System has the secretary of state calling for change.
Secretary Kate Brown wants to see more affordable options in the state’s public universities and debt reduction for college students in Oregon.
Students KEZI 9 News spoke with say the cost of going after a degree these days makes it incredibly difficult.
“It’s simply unaffordable, and students are struggling and hurting because of it,” said University of Oregon student Amy Jones.
College students in Oregon have made it no secret that they think tuition is too high. According to them, the price of going to college jumped dramatically, creating a burden for anyone trying to get their degree.
“Tuition prices have shot up farther than any commodity on the market in the past decade,” said UO student Joshua Seligsohn.
“It’s extremely difficult working to keep up with everything,” said UO student Azia Calderhead.
The Secretary of State’s Office says that tuition and fees increased faster than inflation as the state’s spending on education dropped.
“When we see them continue to rise, we’re kind of wondering what’s going to be done to stop that,” Jones said.
Brown thinks the current structure of the Oregon University System created confusion and a lack of accountability for the state’s universities.
“We need to know how much it costs to educate an Oregon university student, and we need greater accountability. Improving our higher education system is critical to Oregon’s economic growth,” Brown said.
The audit also revealed alarming statistics regarding student debt. According to the report, students from OUS schools graduate with 9 percent more debt than the national average.
Students say they’ve had to take on excruciating schedules to make ends meet.
“I have a campus job here, and I’m working over 20 hours a week just to be able to afford to go here,” Jones said.
For Secretary Brown, a college education is key to the state’s future–a future that students hope includes more affordable tuition.
Students also told KEZI 9 News that tuition is really just one piece of the puzzle. They say that textbooks and rent to live close to campus also made it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.