Oregon senators hold a ‘listening session’ to discuss tuition costs

EUGENE, Ore. – Students from both the University of Oregon and Lane Community College joined Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley for a “listening session” on Monday at the University of Oregon. Jazzmen Vega-Heath and Ashley Jackson, who are student leaders at LCC, as well as mothers, weighed in on the session.

I’m relieved that they’re willing to hear us; I just hope that they’re willing to put their words to action,” Vega-Heath said. 

Senator Wyden discussed his plan to introduce legislation that would give colleges financial incentives to freeze or even lower tuition.

Senator Jeff Merkley discussed his concerns about high school students who choose not to go to college for financial reasons. He says that he feels if high school seniors were more educated about tuition payment options, more would consider going to college.

When he asked the room if any of the students had been given confidence in high school that college would be affordable, only one person raised his hand.

“The goal that I would like to see is for every student when they start high school, to be able to know that there is an affordable path to pay for college,” Merkley said.

Two University of Oregon students also discussed their lack of college counseling options at their high schools, with class sizes of 25 and 15, respectively, and very little opportunity to learn about college options.

The senators also plan to introduce legislation that increases tax incentives, hoping to make it easier for students to afford college.