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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Governor Urges Higher Education Panel To Scrutinize Tuition Increases

Office of the governor
File photo of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is leaning on the state's public college and universities to curb tuition increases.

Brown sent a letter to Oregon's Higher Education Coordinating Commission, which signs off on tuition hikes. The Democrat urged the panel to reject any proposed tuition increase that exceeds 5 percent unless school leaders can show they have cost containment plans in effect and can offer evidence that alternatives were seriously considered.

The letter was welcome news to Oregon State University political science major Tabitha Pitzer. She said she and her parents are already taking out the maximum amount of loans that they can. ??"It makes me question if it's all worth it and if it will pay off in the end, already knowing that there's questions of whether or not I'll be able to buy a home or a car or start a family already with the debt that I have,” Pitzer said.

Tuition increases are tied heavily to state funding levels. Oregon lawmakers are trying to cobble together a budget in the face of a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. It comes as some schools including Portland State University and the University of Oregon are proposing tuition hikes of 9 or 10 percent.