The University of California Board of Regents is set to approve an $822 annual fee increase as discussed at their UC San Francisco Mission Bay meeting yesterday.
This cost increase will be the tenth in the past eight years and will bring the average in-state tuition to $12,150 per year.
UC President Mark G. Yudof said the additional cost will be implemented in response to a lack of state funding.
“We have all sorts of fixed costs without the state helping us,” Yudof said. “It’s necessary to raise fees. That will allow campuses to reinvest in faculty hiring, expand academic support and allow employees’ contributions to the pension plan.”
Yudof added that the revenue generated by the new fee will represent only .5 percent of the overall UC budget.
“There are some difficult decisions and some groups we will sacrifice, but I think we are on the right trajectory,” Yudof said. “It is not being balanced on the backs of the students, it is a small portion. We’re still trying to make do, frankly, with less. ”
However, UCOP Executive Vice President for Business Operations Nathan Brostrom said the UC system is placing a larger burden on its students than ever before.
“Student fees are becoming a much bigger percentage of the core budget,” Brostrom said. “Now, the contribution from state and students is nearing equal, with students contributing 43 percent versus 57 percent from the state.”
Student Regent Designate Alfredo Mireles said rising student contributions will not remedy the UC budget crisis.
“If you believe the numbers that the university puts out we’re about a billion dollars in the hole,” Mireles said. “The 8 percent fee increase will yield $115 million. That is relatively such a tiny amount of money, it’s more trouble than its worth and we need bigger picture solutions.”
Yudof added that the board plans to amend the Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan. The program, which currently exempts California residents whose families earn under $70,000 a year from paying tuition, will expand to include families making under $80,000. Additionally, in-state students whose families with incomes between $80,000 and $120,000 will not pay the $822 increase for one year. According to Yudof, 69 percent of California families will not be required to pay for a UC education.
“If anyone is dropping out for this 8 percent increase, I don’t get it,” Yudof said. “They must be dropping out for other reasons.”
Furthermore, Yudof said recent fee hikes have not been detrimental to the demographic of the UC.
“Despite what you’ve heard, after 32 percent fee increases our proportion of [Federal Pell Grant] students jumped from 31 to 39 percent — virtually three times any state in the Ivy League,” Yudof said. “Also, over half of our students come from a home where the primary language is not English.”
The Regents also said the amount of non-California resident students will be raised from 7 to 10 percent of the student body.
Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Lawrence Pitts said that although out-of-state students are less likely to be low-income or from a minority group, they each offer $23,000 more in tuition than residents.
“Nonresidents allow an additional $100 million to flow into the educational support of the University of California,” Pitts said. “If you consider the economics, these students increase the number of classes that can be offered. If you didn’t have the nonresident students, you’d have even larger classes and even fewer courses.”
However, Regent Odessa P. Johnson said she did not think the accessibility of the system for residents should be scarified for increased revenue.
“When you say that this is going to limit the number of Latino or Latin American students, how can you say we are going to take students from well-to-do nations and justify this?” Johnson said. “It bothers me. I have to be convinced I can justify this to the students who are not getting the classes they want right now.”
The board also discussed restructuring the university’s retirement policy. The proposal would include increasing employee contributions by three percent, raise the age of retirement and provide fewer benefits.
“This is a very tough time for the pension world, and it’s a particularly tough time for us because there is no contribution from the state or from employees for 20 years,” Yudof said. “You have to be real about the world in which we live.”
The board also voted unanimously to officially call all teaching expenses “tuition” and all non-teaching expenses “fees.”
Following these decisions, the Board convened in a private session for the remainder of the day.