Nearly 10 years ago, the Oregon State Legislature began divesting from higher education. The recession that took so much funding away from state government services was
Until last year, Oregon had seen a significant divestment in higher education since the 2007 recession. Our primary goal for the 2015 session of the Oregon State Legislature was reversing this trend and restoring higher education funding to pre-recession levels. We went a long way toward accomplishing this. The $700 million approved by the Legislature represents a 28 percent increase over the last biennium and will allow OSU to minimize tuition increases while investing in faculty, research and facilities.
This year, we need to really focus on our students. Additional funding this year will help universities address immediate and near term factors that prevent students from finishing their degrees. These include funds for one-time emergency incidents or expenses that may cause students to veer off of their academic pathway, never to return. Once this happens they find themselves facing student debt payments without the benefit of a degree that will qualify them for meaningful and financially sustaining work.
Funding will also help the 35% of students who find themselves in the “murky middle.” While many initiatives target first-year students, nationwide data show that 52% of attrition occurs after the first year with a large share of attrition occurring during the sophomore and junior years. Students in the murky middle can be overlooked because they do not exhibit the obvious at-risk factors and therefore are difficult to distinguish from those who do ultimately graduate. Funding will be targeted at the two-fifths of students who are able to finish their first year in good academic standing, but for various reasons do not complete their education. This effort will help reduce the growing student debt load borne by Oregonians who are unable to graduate.
Nothing is more important to us than creating more Beavers. Keeping our students on track for graduation is an investment in OSU’s and Oregon’s future.