By: Carolina Dominguez
UC President Janet Napolitano announced last Wednesday that tuition levels will remain at current levels for the 2015 summer session, marking a delay in the planned tuition hike. Instead of the tuition increase affecting fees for this upcoming session, the hike will instead start during fall quarter of 2015.
She gave the announcement during her keynote address regarding innovation in higher education at the 37th annual Pullias lecture at USC, attributing the delay to ongoing negotiations occurring between her and Governor Jerry Brown on the future of funding for state universities. Originally, the five percent tuition increase was set to start this summer with additional increases of five percent each year for the next five years.
Napolitano said that taxpayers have lost faith in the current tuition model.
“Taxpayers, who used to view education at the University of California as a public investment, increasingly now see it as a private good,” she said.
During her lecture, Napolitano said that the University of California is currently receiving the same amount of funding as it did in 1997, despite enrolling 75,000 more students. The tuition increase was approved in November after Napolitano after the UC regents determined that the university system needs $100 million more than the $120 million increased Brown promised.
The UC president said that the reason for the delay is because of the ongoing discussion that is happening between her and Brown. Also, the legislature is still at work putting together the state budget. This delay will help to keep the tuition low, and more importantly, as predictable as possible without students having to face uncertainty about the cost of this year’s summer courses.
In a press release, Student Association President Jefferson Kuoch-Seng was cautiously optimistic about the delay.
“Students are encouraged by this gesture, but it is only a first step. While this is a sign that meaningful negotiations are continuing, it will have an impact on a small segment of the student population,” he said.
According to Kuoch-Seng, the majority of students still face an imminent tuition increase.
“Unfortunately, tuition increases remain scheduled in the fall for incoming freshman and current students,” he said. “We are disappointed that once again, students were not engaged directly, and were informed of the tuition rollback through the media. UCSA continues to urge the Governor and the President to invite students to the table and stop relegating them to the role of observers to their own future.”
Others disagreed and are in favor of Napolitano’s decision to delay the tuition hike after this summer.
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, who also serves as a UC Regent, stated in a press release that she is pleased that President Napolitano is beginning to retreat from UC’s reliance on fee increases.
“With the Assembly beginning our top-to-bottom review of UC’s budget today, I am sure we will be able to identify savings, as well as increased state funding, that will help ensure UC remains a world-class treasure,” Atkins said.
She emphasized that the university’s priority should be its California students.
“The Assembly is also committed to capping enrollment for out-of-state students and charging those students a reasonable higher rate to ensure a UC education remains available and affordable for the California students it was built to serve,” she said.”
For a while the university has been able to weather decreases in its state funding while also expanding enrollment for California students by accepting more out-of-state students, who pay more tuition.
However, Brown hopes that the UC will be able to keep its out-of-state enrollment levels stable so that current students are given the resources they need to improve the quality of their education.
Sanaa Khan, ASUCI Executive Vice President, viewed Napolitano’s delay as the UC giving the governor and the legislature more time to figure out the state’s UC budget allocation, especially since semester schools like UC Berkeley will be starting summer school in May before the state budget is approved and signed.
“The delay in the implementation of the tuition increase plan is great news for students who are getting ready to register for summer classes,” Khan said.
“I think that we as students have to keep pushing the Governor and President Napolitano about their two-person committee and remind them about the ways the tuition increase plan will affect our education.”