As many UC Santa Barbara students parted ways with the campus for a remote spring quarter, some have been calling for tuition to be lowered in light of their lack of access to on-campus services — but the University of California has announced it has “no expectation” of implementing tuition reductions.
In a March 25 letter from Paul Jenny, the interim chief financial officer of the UC, campuses “retain the authority to provide exceptions” to student fees, but they will not be required to “change their policies or practices related to the assessment or refund of these charges.”
Tuition is set at a UC-wide level, and individual campuses do not have the authority to change it, according to Katya Armistead, assistant vice chancellor and dean of student life. Campuses do have the authority to reimburse or alter student services fees, which go towards campus infrastructure, building maintenance, teacher salaries and aid that is returned to students.
However, “a lot of student fees are established fees whether you need the service or not,” Miles Ashlock, acting associate dean and director of the Office of Student Life, said.
“You pay for that service so that the door can be open to you if you ever need it. And even as we transfer to online, there will be very few services where the door is closed.”
Jenny’s letter echoed Ashlock and Armistead’s points, stating that “many of the costs that campus-based fees are intended to cover will continue.” Campus infrastructure, for example, will still require maintenance and upkeep with or without students, he said in the letter.
Mandatory charges, which include tuition, the student services fee, the nonresident supplemental tuition and professional degree supplemental tuition “will continue to help cover the faculty’s delivery of instruction, other educational costs, and the cost of student services,” Jenny said.
Some students have continued to express frustration that their respective UC campuses have not offered a reduction for certain campus fees that cannot be replaced by online services.
Yasamin Salari, a third-year political science major at UCSB, created a Change.org petition urging the university to refund students for services they would no longer have access to, such as “the transit system fee of $13.3, UCEN expansion fee of $20.2, events center fee of $12, recreation center fee of $70.04,” according to the petition.
“Although I understand these are extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances, I want to address and ensure that the education we are receiving is reflected in our tuition costs. Many of the services we pay through our tuition every quarter will be limited, many of which will not be used by most students who will not be on campus,” Salari said in the petition.
Armistead said that Student Affairs is aware of students’ concerns and encourages those facing financial hardships to visit Basic Needs Resources either on campus or online to receive financial or CalFresh assistance, borrow a free Chromebook or access mental health resources.
All basic needs resources are deemed essential functions and are still open on campus, according to Armistead. A map of what is open across campus can be viewed here.