UC regents vote to raise tuition

Liana Lum, Editor-in-Chief

Liana Lum
News Editor

Despite student protests, University of California regents have approved a proposal to increase student tuition 5 percent for the next five years unless state legislature gives an increased fund of $100 million to the UCs or alternative funding is secured.

“I see it dramatically affect my friends and other students,” Patrick Wong, a freshman at University of California, Berkeley, said. “For low income students, they get scholarships and financial aid while working very hard and still aren’t able to cover the cost of it.”

The tuition increase, proposed by University of California President Janet Napolitano, is the first in three years and would be used to improve technology, enroll 5,000 more California residents and hire more faculty, as well as pay pensionsScreen Shot 2014-12-12 at 11.35.57 AM and rising salaries.

“Tuition should be as low as possible and as predictable as possible,” Napolitano and regent chairman Bruce Varner wrote in their Sacramento Bee opinion piece.

Despite the 2012 passage of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, which would provide a 20 percent increase in state-given university budget in exchange for higher taxes and a four-year tuition freeze, Napolitano and Varner say the funds are still insufficient.

“The state already plans on increasing their contribution to 4 percent over the next two years,” College Counseling Director Rebecca Munda said. “But they want to tie in some changes to their increase which the UC system does not agree with.”

Although nearly a third of increased tuition would be set aside for financial aid, according to Nathan Brostrom, UC’s chief financial office, it would raise next year’s tuition $612 to a total of $12, 804.

The university’s master plan of 1960 asserts California’s “long-time commitment to the principle of tuition-free education,” yet the UC tuition increase, if passed, will eventually reach $15,564 a year, excluding room, board, and other fees, double the cost from just a decade ago.

“I don’t support the tuition increase because there are other ways we can get money,” Ayesha Sayeed, a University of California, San Diego freshman, said, referring to Prop 30. “Also a new bill was released so the new plan will take the middle class scholarship away.”

The middle class scholarship, which this year provides about 70,000 students with grants averaging about $900, according to California Senate staff members, was proposed to be repealed after just one year, so the money could be used to support higher education more broadly.

Fees would also increase for certain professional degrees depending on the campus and for out of state students.

“I know people who are already second years and have $12,000 in debt,” Sayeed said. “Personally, if there were to be another tuition increase in four years, that would jeopardize my chances of going to graduate school.”

The University of California Student Association opposes this tuition proposal, saying that the UC must stop “forcing its students to bear the burden of the UC funding gap,” putting the affordability and accessibility of the university is at risk.

“Most students are against the tuition increase,” Sayeed said. “We’ve been holding silent protests while participating in library sit-ins and class walk-ins as well as crashing the regents board meeting.”

Students have gained support from outside communities, with UCSD receiving a letter in solidarity from Syracuse University and long-time rival Stanford joining UC Berkeley in protest.

“The regents decided to have the tuition hike around Spirit Week,” Wong said. “A lot of Stanford students came to sit in as well as to help us protest against tuition hike.”

Alternative plans and bills have been proposed to prevent the tuition hike, and Brown, who opposes it, has suggested creating a three-year degree program, offering online courses and cooperating closer with community colleges to decrease graduation time.

“Even with the tuition hike, the number of people applying to UCs most likely will not decrease,” Munda said. “It’s still less expensive than other top branch public universities and significantly less than private school tuition.”

No permanent decisions have been made, and Brown will introduce the next steps in the budget in January, according to his spokesperson in the Wall Street Journal.

“Students have a voice, and parents do as well,” Munda said. “This is a huge challenge, but the legislators need to hear from the constituents. It’s reaching out to these legislators and letting them know that they are not happy with this.”