University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Thursday that the UC has reached an agreement with Governor Jerry Brown on state budget revisions to increase funding to the university, potentially freezing in-state tuition at its current rate of $12,192 until the 2017-2018 school year, and funding programs such as a system-wide curriculum review.
The budget proposal, known as the “May Revise,” establishes a four percent annual base funding increase to UC over the next four fiscal years, totaling $507.3 million by 2019. It also includes $436 million over the next three years to reduce UC’s pension liability. A tuition freeze would be contingent on the UC Board of Regents lowing its pension ceiling and establishing benefit plans for certain employees in accordance with the 2013 Public Employees Pension Reform Act.
UC plans to further increase revenue by raising the Student Service Fee by five percent annually and, if approved at the May 21 meeting of the UC Board of Regents, increase out-of-state tuition by eight percent annually. The budget will go to the state legislature for consideration.
Napolitano said Brown has acknowledged the importance of UC education by agreeing to the budget revisions.
“With this agreement, the Governor has recognized the need to reinvest in UC as well as the imperative to provide students, their families and the University with a reliable way to budget for the cost of a UC education,” Napolitano said in a statement.
Communications Director for the A.S. Lobby Corps and first-year art history major Lacy Wright said she supports the proposed increase to the Student Services Fee, because UCSB Counseling and Psychological Services (C.A.P.S.) is in need of better funding.
“C.A.P.S. works so incredibly hard to help all the students seeking counseling, but just doesn’t have the funds,” Wright said. “Students often have to wait weeks to see a counselor, and this wait could be drastically shortened with the increase in funds.”
Third-year sociology and black studies major Mohsin Mirza said while Student Service Fee provides important services, students should not have to bear so much of the financial burden.
“The services fee will go to programs that are very helpful and necessary, like increased funding for mental health services so C.A.P.S. can hire more practitioners,” Mirza said. “It’s incredibly important, but unfortunate that, once again, it’ll be students who, across the state, already are struggling financially, who will have to be picking up the tab rather than the state.”
Mirza said the proposed increase to out-of-state tuition is “unfortunate” because it will exclude many people of lower economic classes from attending a UC.
“Out-of-state students are already extremely financially burdened, and I worry that this latest increase will mean that only the wealthiest out-of-state students will continue to afford to be here.”
According to Mirza, Prop 13 reform and UC budget transparency can help eliminate future “tuition battles.”
“These are the big changes we need, and the only way I can foresee that happening is if we can build a stronger student movement over the next two years,” Mirza said.
Napolitano said the budget revision will not accommodate UC’s desired increase in enrollment.
“It does not fund California student enrollment growth — so our work is not done,” Napolitano said in a statement.
According to a statement from the UC Students Association (UCSA), UCSA President Jefferson Kuoch-Seng said while May Revise is an important step, students should continue pushing for lower tuition.
“Today’s announcement contains promising news for California UC undergraduates,” Kuoch-Seng said. “However, students will continue our direct advocacy in Sacramento and build broad support across California within and beyond our campuses.”
Mirza said he is “cautiously optimistic” UC will use new state funding efficiently.
“The UC has a history of mismanaging funds, it was a key reason as to why Prop 30 failed to have the impact we had hoped it would,” Mirza said. “I know students will be doing their best to hold them accountable.”