On May 20, the UC Regents, in a 14-2 vote, approved an increase in student fees for the 2004-05 academic year to address the dramatic reduction in state funding for the university.
The newly-approved fees include a $700 annual increase for resident undergraduates, a $1,050 increase for resident graduate students and between a $2,600 and $4,500 increase for professional school students.
This announcement came days after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s May budget revision and his drafting of a new ‘compact’ with UC President Dynes and CSU chancellor Charles Reed to provide multi-year stability in the funding of public higher education in California.
Protecting the UC system from additional statewide budget cuts, Schwarzenegger’s May revision restores $20 million in previously cut funding to the university while adjusting Cal Grant awards.
Left untouched despite an increase in student expenses, the governor’s original budget issued in January did not increase Cal Grants to cover the added student costs.
Under the new revision, however, Cal Grant awards will be increased to coincide with the proposed 14 percent increase in student fees.
The compact agreed upon by Schwarzenegger, Dynes and Reed provides an annual growth in state funding for UC’s basic budget and enrollment growth to begin in 2005 and stretch through the 2010-11 fiscal year.
In exchange for the gradual restoration of funding, the UC system agreed to its commitment and accountability in specific areas.
‘Under the compact, the UC will receive funding to preserve its internationally acclaimed academic programs, to provide accessibility for promising California students, and to sustain its deep impact on the economy, health and quality of life of California,’ Dynes said.
A key use of the first year’s restored funding is the renewed growth of UC faculty and staff salaries, an important factor maintaining institutional quality.
The most encouraging aspect of the proposed funding is their representation of a floor rather than a ceiling.
New funding components reflect a minimum level of state
resources necessary to preserve quality and access at the
university, with additional funds to be made available when state budgets allow.
Despite the UC’s gradual return to financial stability, fee increases and cuts for the 2004-05 year are unavoidable.
By summer 2004, mandatory systemwide fees will
climb to $5,684. However, after other miscellaneous campus
fees are incorporated the
number will grow again,
bringing the total average fee to $6,269.
While this is a substantial increase for many, attending a UC campus still remains about $1,200 less than the average amount charged at the nation’s other four public university systems, such as Illinois, Michigan, SUNY and Virginia.
Previously announced cuts
for the year will also
remain including a 5-percent cut to state funded research, the
elimination of state funding for K-12 outreach programs, and a 10-percent reduction in freshman enrollment for the upcoming fall quarter.
Although few students are excited over the idea of paying more for their education, this is the first time that a fee increase has been announced beforehand, thus allowing students and their families the opportunity to plan their school budgets accordingly.
Even with the forewarning, many students have bittersweet feelings toward the newly- increased fees.
‘While it’s nice to know
about the increased fees ahead of time, I still do not feel that they are fair,’ said Jessica Moreno, a
second-year political science major.