By Jaime Fuller
A $1.023 billion operating budget was approved for the 2014-‘15 fiscal year at Oregon State University. This is the first year the budget has exceeded a billion dollars. Reasons for the gain include a modest increase in research grants, more students, more funding from the state in order to freeze tuition rates, and more income as a result of the changing tuition structure.
The OSU Board of Trustees claimed oversight responsibilities for the university on July 1, which used to belong to the State Board of Higher Education. The University chose to have an independent board of directors that was appointed by the governor.
This budget includes approval of new interdisciplinary master and doctoral programs in robotics, categorized under the School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering. Religious studies degree programs were also approved within the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion. Students can currently take classes in robotics and religious studies, but no degree programs have previously existed. This is a major step, and now two higher levels of approval are required before these degree programs will be implemented.
OSU is funded by state support, tuition, research grants, and donations through the OSU Foundation. The lion’s share of the budget, consisting of $539 million, will be provided by the state, and could be directed toward academics, outreach and engagement, or experiment stations. Another $197 million comes from self-supporting funds, like the residence halls, food service, parking, and athletics. The third source of revenue is labeled restricted funds, derived from donations and grants provided by the state and non-profits, as well as research contracts.
Per-credit tuition will remain the same during the 2014 school year; however, some students might feel the bite of higher tuition costs due to a changing payment structure. Students will eventually have to pay in full for credits 13 through 16, which used to be free if the student was already paying for 12 credits. This is the second year of a three-year process to phase out the tuition plateau. During the 2014 school year, students will only have to pay half of regular tuition for credits 13, 14, and 15 and full tuition for any credits beyond that. Even after the plateau is phased out, tuition at OSU will still be significantly less than at the University of Oregon.