A group of UC Riverside students will present a financial plan to alleviate student debt and curb tuition hikes throughout the university system at this week’s Board of Regents meeting at the Riverside campus.
The “Fix UC” funding model is based on a 20-year payment plan in which students would pay 5 percent of their annual income to the UC for a 20-year period after graduating, rather than paying while enrolled. UCR’s student newspaper, the Highlander, developed the proposal over a nine-month period beginning last April to offer a constructive solution to the state’s significant cuts to UC funding.
Fix UC President and Highlander editor in chief Chris LoCascio said the plan takes a unique approach to protecting students from additional tuition hikes, as student fees have more than tripled in the past 10 years.
“We called for new, out-of-the-box solutions to curb the otherwise go-to option for dealing with budget cuts — tuition increases,” LoCascio said.
According to the Fix UC website, the model would steer the 10-campus system away from relying on state funding in order to help stabilize its finances.
“The purpose of the plan is to reestablish the UC as an affordable option for all qualified California students while gradually reducing its reliance on undependable state monies,” according to the site.
In formulating the model, the Fix UC team evaluated the system’s fiscal statistics and broke down the specific expenditures of an average student to take both sides into account in establishing an affordable payment method.
LoCascio said the team developed a “worst case scenario” model which generated substantial income despite using a low estimate of graduates in the workforce who were also in a low income contribution bracket.
“We deliberately used conservative numbers for our data report in order to reflect how robust this funding model is in times of low employment,” LoCascio said. “In our calculations, only 60 percent of graduates had jobs, and they made $50,000. Even under those recession-like circumstances, the UC still has more than enough revenue to operate.”
The plan allows for a nine-year transitional period, during which contributions after graduation will surpass the total tuition revenue. The document also includes a clause that reduces state funding dependency from 3.2 percent to no lower than 2 percent to avoid completely privatizing the institution.
Additionally, the plan would shift the burden of tuition payment from students’ families to students themselves.
Fix UC data and statistical analyst Alex Abelson, a fourth-year business economics major at UCR, said the plan aims to provide the best solution for the broadest possible spectrum of students.
“The word ‘maximize’ implies that you’re getting most — not getting all,” Abelson said. “I think if we can transcend all of those demographics, then we’re doing a good job, and I think that’s what the proposal does.”
According to Abelson, the plan could plausibly revolutionize California’s public education system.
“I think this is something that could change the way people see education,” Abelson said. “The idea is that education is the student having an invested relationship with the UC and the UC similarly having an invested relationship with the student.”
Second-year microbiology major Emily Pedersen said the proposal also encourages students to pursue personal goals both as undergraduates and outside academia.
“It would definitely encourage ambitious students that come from low-income families to go to school and chase after high-paying jobs even if it means staying in school for that extra year,” Pederson said. “It encourages kids to go to school to become things like marine biologists or teachers if that’s what they love to do [without the burden of] not making enough money [to pay off loans.]”
The Board of Regents will take the proposal into consideration during their meeting this Wednesday and Thursday at the UCR campus. If the regents choose to adopt the proposal, LoCascio said he expects they will assemble a task force to analyze the plan’s implementation.
For more information, visit www.FixUC.org.