The UC Office of the President and UC Board of Regents announced today that the Board would consider a plan to incrementally increase tuition by five percent annually for five years at its bi-monthly meeting on Nov 19.
The plan assumes that the state will increase its base budget support for UC by four percent annually through the 2019-2020 academic year, contributions that will amount to roughly 1.7 percent of the UC’s annual budget.
A UCOP statement stated that the proposed five percent annual increase is a “ceiling figure” and that the entire proposal hinges on the amount of money appropriated to the UC budget by Sacramento. According to UCOP, the plan stipulates each five percent increase would equate to roughly $500 more in additional charges each year and would result in baseline UC tuition totaling $15,564 per student per year by the 2019-2020 academic year.
UCOP listed various reasons for the tuition increase in its initial statement on the proposal. Among them are enabling the university to enroll 5,000 more students, improving the student-faculty ratio, bolstering the university’s financial aid programs and funding mental health services for students.
According to UCOP, UC President Janet Napolitano and the campus chancellors will also begin discussions on the future of nonresident enrollment following the Regents’ decision on the long-range plan.
According to UCOP, anticipated budget increases from the state will be insufficient to meet the “enrollment demands” and academic quality demands on the UC system as a whole.
The University of California Student Association, a coalition of student government representatives from across the UC system, released a statement yesterday condemning the proposed tuition increase as a step that “holds [students] hostage for the future of their education.”
“UCSA views the plan proposed by UCOP as one that does not prioritize students,” the statement reads. “Instead of using students as political pawns, the UC and Regents should consider partnering with students on a meaningful level to advocate to the state for more funding. University of California students have been ready, willing, and urging the UC to let students be a part of planning for their future.”
Napolitano, when asked about the statement, said continuing a tuition freeze with current levels of state support, which she said has declined over the last decade by 27 percent per student, is not feasible.
“I think it’s unfortunate language. It’s not that at all,” Napolitano said. “It’s not holding anybody hostage, this is where we are … but you can’t have a tuition freeze indefinitely at the current level of state support that we’re receiving.”
According to Napolitano, given the “dramatically reduced” per student contribution by the state, the UC has been placed in a situation that necessitates a tuition increase or an increase in state funding.
“The per-student contribution by the state has really been dramatically reduced. I think it’s time to say, ‘Look, we want to maintain ourself as open and accessible, maintain our student aid policy; we want to increase California enrollment and we need to invest in academic quality.’” Napolitano said. “At some point you either increase the state contribution or you have a tuition plan that goes into place.”
All 10 UC chancellors, including Chancellor Henry T. Yang, also released a joint statement today in support of the proposed increase, citing continuous funding gaps and a decreased budget of $640 million in funds available to UC since 2008.
“The plan addresses our obligation to students and their families to provide them with the best education possible at the most affordable price. It is predictable and fair, and it allows families to plan ahead,” the statement reads. “It is important to note that under this proposed plan, about 55 percent of our California undergraduates will continue to pay no systemwide tuition or fees.”
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299, the UC’s largest workers union, released a statement on the proposed tuition increase, claiming that UCOP has twice the number of employees earning over $250,000 per year now as it did in 2008. AFSCME 3299 President Katherine Lybarger said the UC should reprioritize its available funding toward sources other than executive salaries and should “stop squandering millions of public dollars on oversized executive compensation and outsourcing contracts.”
“The cost of these misguided priorities has already left UC facilities dangerously short staffed, and undermined the
California Master Plan guarantee for thousands of qualified students in our state,” Lybarger said. “Demanding more money from students and taxpayers without first correcting the tone-deaf mismanagement that has been a catalyst for UC’s financial problems is a non-starter.”