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

The Democrat sent a letter to Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission, which signs off on tuition hikes. In it, Brown 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. Pitzer expects her tuition rate to increase by as much as 7 percent next year.

“It makes me question if [college is] 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,” she 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.