UC Regents to Vote on Student Tuition and Fee Hikes

The University of California announced its intentions last Wednesday to vote on a systemwide tuition increase at their next board meeting on Jan. 25-26, spurred by ever-rising student enrollment, institutional costs, increased faculty hires and the pressure to graduate students faster.

The 2.5 percent increase in tuition, the first in six years, would amount to an extra $282 per year, per student. In addition, the regents will vote on a $54 student service fee to fund campus mental health services. If approved, the hikes would take effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year.

UC Regents previously voted in 2015 to increase tuition by 5 percent per year for five years, sparking a massive wave of protests across the UC system. Tuition ultimately froze in place for in-state residents for two years after a budget agreement was reached between UC President Janet Napolitano and California Governor Jerry Brown. The agreement still increased nonresident supplemental tuition by $1,830. The State Legislature further required that the UC enroll 5,000 more in-state students in exchange for $25 million in state funds. Currently, the UC is increasing admission by record numbers in an effort to fulfill its three year  goal  to absorb 10,000 more students by 2018. Last Wednesday, UCI announced that its campus alone had received a record-breaking 102,210 applications for fall 2017.

UC spokesperson Dianne Klein said in a press release that two-thirds of students would have their tuition increase covered by financial aid. Klein also noted that the tuition increase would allow the UC to hire more faculty and increase mental health, counseling and tutoring services.

“We’ve reached the point where it is critical that we make these investments in UC’s academic excellence,” Klein said.

Over the last decade, tuition has become an increasingly large portion of the UC’s revenue, in an attempt to make up for budget cuts from the state government. Between 2007 and 2012, the state of California cut $2 billion from UC and California State University budgets. As a result, the state’s funding share per student has dropped from 72 percent to 41 percent since 2000. To compensate for plummeting state support, tuition has risen at an unprecedented rate. Current UC tuition and fees amount to $12,294 per year for in-state students and $40,182 for out-of-state students, in addition to campus-specific fees.

Students often face a myriad of costs in addition to tuition and fees including book costs, supply costs, and rent  costs. Whilst new and improved services are often welcomed by students, the costs are often not. For the 2015-2016 school year, UCI estimated the expense for an in-state undergraduate student living on campus for nine months to be $32,102.

Leaders of UC Regents, however, maintain that despite the increasing cost of attendance, the resources available at UCs will improve as a result of the tuition hike.

“These are improvements that students themselves say are needed, and which we believe are necessary to ensure timely graduation and a positive student experience,” Klein said.