UC students turn ‘forever’ tuition hike into five-year hike


In summary

UC’s board of trustees approved a five-year tuition increase that charges a progressively higher rate each year to each entering undergraduate class, but then keeps that rate unchanged for six years. A previous version would have maintained these increases indefinitely. Now, the maker of this change wants students to document all the ways this plan could harm students.

Nothing lasts forever, not even a plan to increase tuition fees indefinitely.

On Thursday, the University of California changed its plans to raise tuition fees each year without an expiration date, ceding to an amendment by a student member of the Board of Regents to keep tuition hikes in the books for five years, then to vote on the board of directors of UC. to authorize these hikes again in 2027.

Still, the regents have broadly backed the overall plan to increase tuition fees, voting 17 to 5 to begin the hikes in 2022-2023, a move that means new California undergraduates will see tuition fees increase by d ‘around $ 540, but will then keep this sticker. fixed price for six years. Each new class of undergraduate students will pay a higher amount based on inflation and in the first few years a small supplement, but will keep that rate for six years. Graduating students will see their tuition fees increase each year in line with inflation.

For the regents, the financial needs of the university system outweighed student concerns about rising college costs.

The concession to UC Berkeley’s undergraduate and Regent Alexis Atsilvsgi Zaragoza gives student groups time to rally against the multi-year tuition hike and to argue that more students are being excluded from the system due to of these increases. Zaragoza ultimately opposed the tuition hike, as did Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Democrat from Long Beach, who made a rare appearance as a regent member.

For the regents, the financial needs of the university system outweighed student concerns about rising college costs, a note many speakers repeated over and over during the nearly three-hour debate.

“I don’t give as much quality education as I used to, and that’s a fact, and I think almost any veteran faculty member will tell you that,” said Robert Horwitz, Faculty Representative to Regents and Member. of UC San Diego. professor for 39 years who urged regents to approve the tuition hike so the system can raise more money to hire additional teachers. “Student-faculty ratios have worsened. ”

The UC President’s office predicts a cost increase of $ 2.1 billion over the next few years, with staff compensation and benefits accounting for the bulk of that, along with student services for improve graduation rates.

Zaragoza told CalMatters it doubts the regents will vote to reverse these ongoing tuition fee increases in five years, “unless all of this blows in their face and turns out to be a bad solution.”

What is more likely is that students provide the regents with proof that UC’s various tuition policies need an overhaul, she said. It’s a way to verify the statements of UC President Michael Drake’s team, which says low- and middle-income students won’t have to pay more under the tuition hike plan. tuition, as more than a third of tuition income will flow to students in the form of financial aid. The UC says 55% of California undergraduates pay no tuition fees due to state, federal, and university financial aid.

A change students are looking for: Speeding up the time it takes for UC campuses to review a student’s appeal to charge tuition fees in the state, which allows them to pay around $ 14,000 rather than the Foreign students pay $ 44,000. The implications are real and not theoretical.

Zaragoza described a friend who failed to persuade UC Berkeley that he should be charged with tuition fees in the state despite being homeless. Although of Chinese nationality, the student was separated from his parents and lived in his car. But because he didn’t have a permanent address, he couldn’t show he actually lived in California, Zaragoza said. A campus legal aid group helped him stop owing the university tens of thousands of dollars in extra tuition, but he had to drop out because he couldn’t afford the tuition anymore. students. At a minimum, the UC should settle residence calls in four weeks, not the 12 weeks currently allowed them, Zaragoza said. The sooner students know they are not eligible for in-state tuition fees, the sooner they can withdraw and attend another institution, reflection goes on.

In this sense, student groups also want UC to relax its policy allowing financially independent students to be able to pay tuition fees in the state and allow American asylum seekers living in California to be eligible for the tuition fees in the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a 2019 bill that would have allowed asylum seekers to receive state financial assistance to cover their tuition at UC and California State University, citing cost pressures. A legislative analysis of the bill indicated that the ongoing costs to the state were unknown but “likely minor.”

The UC Board of Directors reserves the right to change its tuition fee policies, including waiving the tuition fee increase or increasing tuition fees by a lower amount.

For Zaragoza, the goal is for student advocates to document all instances in which low-income UC students fall through the cracks of financial aid, exposing them to an even greater tax shock as they go. that tuition fees go up.

“I want us to start tracking who has to pay the tuition fees, among the people who, according to the regents, do not have to pay the tuition fees,” Zaragoza said.

Several other changes to UC’s tuition plan have capped the sticker price that students will face.

The board approved the lowering of the cap on the amount of tuition fees that can increase from 6% to 5% in any given year. However, the board reserves the right to change its policies on tuition fees, including waive any increase in tuition fees or increase tuition fees by a lower amount.

The approved plan also grants more financial aid to undergraduates in California. The regents voted to shift 45% of the income from the tuition hike to financial aid for state students. The previous plan called for a 40% change, and the unified communications policy traditionally had about 33%. This amendment was contentious, dropping from 12 to 9 because some regents feared the revenue prospects for campuses would be cut after months of careful planning.

“It is an open question” whether giving students more money to pay for university expenses or paying more professors and academic services will have a greater impact on a student’s time. a student at UC, said David Alocer, senior finance official at the UC office. Of the president.

There is another potential headwind on the tax front. Surprisingly, UC’s tuition plan failed to take into account a little-known state law that states that the governor’s chief financial officer can suspend state support that UC should get if the system increases tuition fees. The amount withheld would equal the additional costs of the state’s Cal Grant program, which covers UC and State of Cal tuition for about one-third of California students in those systems.

“It would be a cause for concern,” Alocer told the regents.

But all of these changes and risks have not torpedoed the Regents’ ultimate goal of increasing UC revenues from tuition fee increases.

Regents President Cecilia Estolano said: “You can’t buy excellence on the cheap. ”


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