Budget Crisis Revisted

University of California students have seen drastic changes in their education in the last few years ranging — from tuition hikes to budget and program cuts across campus. With class sizes growing and resources shrinking, UC students may question what is being done to salvage their education and how they can plan for the future.

Greater numbers of students are facing the financial frenzy with the uncertainty of future higher education costs. Now the University of California Regents have proposed a plan to provide more certainty in the future. The plan states, “A bold new approach is necessary to save the University from an irreversible decline into mediocrity.”

While the plan attempts to keep students and parents more informed about the state of university funds, it makes little promise of keeping fees at a minimum. The presentation given on Sept. 15 to the Finance Committee makes it clear that, an 8 percent tuition increase is necessary over the next five years to sustain the university.

However, greater fees may be necessary if the State cannot comply.

“If the State is unable to meet its share of this cost, student fees would be raised further to make up the State’s deficit,” reads the report. “Thus, if the State provides only 4 percent increases each year, student tuition and fees would increase by 12 percent annually. If the State provides no increase, student tuition and fees would increase by 16 percent annually. Incorporating this principle into a multi-year plan will make clear to all stakeholders that a failure to invest in the University will directly increase the amount students and their families pay to attend.”

There does appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel for future students with stability predicted by 2015. In announcing the proposed multi-year stability plan, Regents also asked UC administrators to look into various means to keep student tuition costs at a minimum. In the meantime, current students will have to eagerly wait and see if appropriate State support comes through or if UC administrators are able to successfully fight on our behalf.

The University of California budget crisis is no new development, having grown to its level of eminence over the course of 20 years.

A major contributing aspect to the UC’s budget crisis comes from what are described as “major swings in State support,” over the past 20 years on top of a dramatic increase in enrollment demand. With more students to cater to and less money flowing into the UC system, it seems tuition hikes are one of the only feasible ways to keep afloat.

This academic year, University of California saw a 51 percent increase in student enrollment comparable from 1990-1991. However, despite this significant boost in enrollment, California state support has only increased by 10 percent, which contributes to the financial crisis that the University of California experiences today. It is estimated that the University will be in need of an additional $2.5 billion by the 2015-2016 academic year to accommodate growing enrollment.

“It provides a level of predictability and stability to people’s lives that we haven’t had in seven or eight years,” said UC Executive Vice President of Business Operations Nathan Brostrom in regards to the multi-year plan. “We’re trying to provide a framework for stability.”

The University of California appears to be drowning in a $1 billion financial short coming. With the new multi-year stability plan came viable concerns for keeping student tuition costs at a minimum.

“It’s incredibly important for parents and students to know what the future looks like,” board chair Sherry Lansing said. “But I think I speak for all the Rregents when I say this is not what we want. What kind of tactics can we think of to change the dynamic?”

Board members were asked by Lansing to report back with one or more ideas to potentially solve the UC budget woes in the next 10 days.