Regents To Vote on Tuition Increase on Nov. 19-20

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This story has been updated as of Nov. 13, 2014

University of California President Janet Napolitano will propose a five-year plan to increase tuition by up to 5 percent each year. The proposal will be voted on during the UC Regent meetings on Nov. 19-20.

“It’s low, it’s predictable and it’s fair so families know what the ceiling price will be for a four-year degree,” Napolitano said during a conference call. “They will continue to get the same financial aid.”

State funds for the university decreased, down to only 42 percent of the UC’s total budget. State funding for educating UC students is $460 million lower than it was in 2007-08, according to the University of California Office of the President (UCOP).

If the 5 percent is approved by the Regents, in-state tuition for the next academic year will be raised by $612 for a total of $12,804 per student. With a proposed increase of up to 5 percent for each of the next five years, in-state tuition could rise to $15,564 by 2019-20. The 5 percent increase is a ceiling that is dependent on the level of state funding that the UC receives — charges may fluctuate over the course of the five years.

The 5 percent increase would raise out-of-state student tuition and fees by about $1,800 to a total of about $36,800 per student. The additional amount of around $24,000 that non-residents pay goes to fund about 9,000 California residents who are not funded by the state.

According to a UCOP budget report for 2014-15, Gov. Jerry Brown’s current multi-year funding plan increases UC’s state funding of 5 percent in 2013-14 and 2014-15 and 4 percent in 2015-15 and 2016-17, as long as a tuition freeze continues. Under this plan, the UC projected four-year gap is over $700 million.

UC chief financial officer Nathan Brostrom said the tuition hike will fund “increasing academic quality” by hiring more faculty and adding 5,000 California undergraduates by 2020.

“In our core fund the state support is dwindling, it’s not enough to cover mandatory costs, let alone other costs,” Brostrom said. “It’s not enough to maintain the university.”

Napolitano was not hopeful when asked about the possibility of a tuition rollback.

“Students want a quality degree in four years with the classes they want to take,” Napolitano said. “Those things don’t come for free.”

Many have responded to Thursday morning’s announcement.

Student organizers from all UC campuses are planning to shut down the Regents meeting at UC San Francisco by blocking entrances to the campus or the building the meeting will be held in. Efforts to bus students from UC Santa Cruz are currently being arranged by Local AFSCME 3299, the local branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Student Union Assembly.

“We want to block the entrances to UCSF,” said Ben Mabie, a fourth-year history and critical race and ethnic studies double major. “We realize it’s destructive but direct action is the only thing that is going to stop this.”

SUA also held an emergency general meeting and a public forum to solidify concerns and to make sure students have a chance to voice their opposition against the proposed hike.

“Students are drafting a resolution to sum up what the tuition proposal is and to put the student voice on paper,” said UC Santa Cruz SUA Organizing Director Brad Mleynek. “Hopefully that will show the 16,000-strong voice.”

SUA Organizing Director Brad Mleynek led the “Forum for Action” Tuesday night as students discussed possible actions against the proposed tuition hike.  Photo by Aron Garst
SUA Organizing Director Brad Mleynek led the “Forum for Action” Tuesday night as students discussed possible actions against the proposed tuition hike.
Photo by Aron Garst

Student governments across the UC system are hosting a collective day of action on the day of the UC Regents meeting. Although UCSC’s plan hasn’t been solidified just yet, students have agreed on responding to the proposal with direct action.

The Regents will discuss the tuition increase as a part of their Long Term Planning Session at 10:15 a.m. on Nov. 19. The session contains a public comment section during which students and alumni will combine their respective minute-long speaking time to deliver a single message from the UC student body.

The UC Student Association released a statement denouncing the recommendation, stating, “Students fail to see how this plan provides any greater level of predictability than today’s current situation. The UC plan demands that Gov. Brown and the Legislature uphold their part of the Stability Plan, while the UC now wants to break [its] side of the agreement, which was to freeze student tuition.” An online petition by UCSA asks students to demand a tuition roll back.

Kathryn Lybarger, president of the local chapter of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299, said in a statement that the UC is squandering millions of dollars on pay increases to its executives and outsourcing custodial labor to contractors who pay their workers rock bottom wages.

“Demanding more money from students and taxpayers without first correcting the tone-deaf mismanagement that has been a catalyst for UC’s financial problems is a nonstarter,” Lybarger said.

The announcement of proposed tuition increases comes less than two months after 20 percent pay raises were given to the UC’s three lowest paid chancellors, including George Blumenthal of UCSC

“Chancellors got no increases in pay for eight years,” said UC chief financial officer Brostrom. “We have the best and brightest minds in higher education and yet their compensation is at the bottom of the spectrum.”

Napolitano said the UC’s tuition rates are competitive to many other public research universities and is up to a third less than major private universities.

UCOP cited how robust the UC financial aid program is compared to the rest of the country, saying that 55 percent of students are completely covered by aid. An additional 14 percent are partially covered by aid, leaving about 31 percent of students left to pay the full cost of student fees and tuition.

“I don’t know of any other state or university that has that robust of a financial aid plan,” Napolitano said. “And that won’t change.”

Napolitano said she had more than 20 meetings with student leaders during her first year and that she made the possibility of a tuition increase apparent.

“It’s been clear for a long time that tuition increases are going to have to be on the table,” Napolitano said. “It can’t be frozen forever.”