Tuition Keeps on Climbing

As the start of another school year approaches, new changes lurk not far behind. The most visible modification is a drastic increase in tuition anticipated to take place over the next year. This brings the tuition increases to occur not only once, but twice.

Specifically, UC President Mark Yudolf proposes that there will be a 15 percent increase in in-state undergraduate fees midyear starting in the winter and a second 15 percent increase on top of the new amount starting Fall 2010. If the proposal goes through, it would mean that basic undergraduate fees for California residents will total to approximately $10,300. This figure does not include housing and other campus expenses.

As Student Regents Designate for the UC system, fourth-year Asian American studies major Jesse Cheng explains that the increase in fees is a reaction to the state’s budget reduction of approximately $600 million dollars. However, Cheng notes that this only solves a portion of the problem; the rest of the cuts will be made on campus.

The increase in fees will not be funding the start of any new programs but rather the continuation of our current programs. Without, Cheng anticipates that many classes would be cut and faculty members laid off.

This revenue will be divided into two portions: one-third of the amount is mandated by UC laws to go to financial aid and two-thirds of the amount is distributed to the core financial budget. From the core financial budget, UC President Yudof determines how much money is allocated to each of the ten UC campuses — this means that each UC does not necessarily receive the same amount.

Cheng says that while he hopes students will react negatively to this fee increase and rise in their cost of living, they should look beyond the Board of Regents and think about why such a decision has been made. Students should in turn hold the state legislature accountable for their decisions by demonstrating that as students, we do listen and care about what is going on.

Cheng goes on to note that low income and marginalized students can still have their cost of their education covered through financial aid. For students under the $60,000 bracket, tuition still remains free. For students under the $120,000 bracket, tuition will be very low. This way a UC education is still accessible to low-income students. The students who will be hit hardest by the increase in fees will be those who do not receive grants or financial aid. Cheng says that it is still yet to be determined what should be done for that population of students.

Sandeep Abraham, fourth-year literary journalism major, comments on this increase in fee.

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that the ‘solution’ is to increase student tuition rather than reduce needless university costs. It’s ridiculous that while students face drastically increasing fees, UCI somehow has enough money to build a new parking structure for the ARC. I’ve looked at the breakdown in our fees and I’ve seen all the various alleged necessary fees we pay that fall under the umbrella of ‘campus fees.’ Some of these fees – namely the Campus Spirit fee, the Recreation Center fee, the Associated Student fee, the TGIF fee and the Bren Events Center fee have no direct bearing on our education.”

Fifth-year film studies major Katie Faulknor expresses her feelings on the financial challenge.

“Most students at UCI entered their first year in a different economy than what we are faced with today. Many came to college dependent financially on parents or financial aid. Of those dependent on their parents, many have seen their parents lose their jobs and are suddenly faced with great dilemmas. Students are struggling to juggle academics with work to keep student loans at a minimum or simply afford college. This increase of tuition will push students to drop out or even result in students failing out because of pressure to meet financial ends.”

Increasing tuition also puts great strain on families, especially in these trying financial times. Fourth-year transfer student Hasti Moini is experiencing particularly dark days, as her parents are going through a divorce and the status of their housing ownership is being put in jeopardy.

“My father lost his job and had to get a new one that doesn’t pay nearly as much, so they might lose the house. I was planning on going to graduate school, but now I think I will just have to continue working and maybe move back home after graduation. Budget cuts, passing the University’s debt onto the students, are not going to help my situation at all. This is going to deter people from applying in the first place.”

News of the fee increase is anticipated to be released by Yudolf on a wide scale through a press release following the Board of Regents meeting held on September 16 and 17th at UCSF Mission Bay. It will voted on at the next Board of Regents meeting in November held at UCLA.