The University of California Board of Regents voted Thursday to increase undergraduate non-resident supplemental tuition for the 2019-2020 school year by 2.6%, or $762, after the increase was revised to set aside 10% of the new revenue for financial aid to nonresident students with financial need.
The Regents approved the tuition increase 12-6, with one abstention.
The increase will provide $26 million in revenue to the UC system. An additional $2.9 million will go toward financial aid for domestic nonresident and international students.
Last year, the Regents raised nonresident supplemental tuition by 3.5%, or $978.
UC President Janet Napolitano said the increase was necessary to avoid “another $30 million hole” that would “have an impact on the educational program we can provide our undergraduate students.”
$2.7 million of the revenue raised will go to UC Santa Barbara, according to David Alcocer, associate vice president of budget analysis and planning in the UC Office of the President (UCOP).
The Regents originally voted to table the tuition increase in March, citing concerns about undocumented students who live in California and pay nonresident tuition in addition to the UC’s financial accessibility to nonresident and international students.
UCOP believes there are likely 30 or fewer undocumented students in the UC system who do not qualify for in-state tuition, according to Alcocer.
“We don’t explicitly track [undocumented status],” he said.
Regent Michael Cohen initially proposed an amendment in the meeting to make the increase in tuition contingent on legislative action to expand financial aid protections for undocumented students. However, the amendment failed 11-9.
UCOP is currently working with legislative staff on AB 1620, which would expand eligibility for non-AB 540 undocumented students, according to Alcocer. The bill would reduce the requirements for AB 540 exemption by one year.
Vice Chair John Pérez said AB 1620 is “a good vehicle,” but “there may be other strategies that also create the opportunities for us to fix this.”
“I can appreciate that we’re talking about a relatively small cohort of students, but that’s not going to be very much comfort if you’re actually one of those 30 or so students,” he said.
Faculty Representative Robert May said he thought all the Regents agreed on the importance of aid to undocumented students, but that the tuition increase should not be held “hostage” to it.
Another concern raised at the March Regents meeting was that raising nonresident tuition without providing aid would disqualify a number of low-income nonresident students.
“We should be mindful about admitting only wealthy nonresident students and work to avoid this,” Napolitano said.
Alcocer said nonresident students “do tend to have greater financial resources than California resident students” but that a portion of nonresident students have financial need.
About 9% of nonresident students relied on student loans to cover a portion of their educational costs last year, Alcocer said at the meeting.
Regent Hadi Makarechian said that it was “very important” that the aid generated by the increase was applied to existing students instead of prospective students.
“President [Napolitano] assured me she would talk to the chancellors and raise funds to provide similar assistance to the people who are trying to apply,” Makarechian said.
Chancellor Gene Block of UC Los Angeles and Chancellor Carol Christ of UC Berkeley both said at the meeting that their campuses would be negatively impacted without the fee increase.
Without the extra money, Christ said UC Berkeley would have to increase class sizes and the student-to-faculty ratio.
Regent Lark Park said that not all nonresident students with “pretty darn low” family incomes would be able to have the tuition increase covered by the financial aid.
She said the financial aid would only cover the fee increase for 3,800 nonresident students. Approximately 5,000 nonresident students’ families have incomes of $58,000 or under, according to data provided by the UC Office of the President.
The UC Students Association (USCA) was one of the loudest voices opposing the tuition increase.
In a letter addressed to the Board of Regents Thursday, USCA President Caroline Siegel-Singh and University Affairs Chair Nuha Khalfay said they were in “strong opposition” to the proposed increase.
“By making our institution more and more inaccessible for non-Californians, we are building a wall around our institution and pushing out anyone who did not have the privilege of living in California at the right time,” the two said in the letter.