UC Postpones Tuition Increase Until Fall 2015

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Illustration by Kelsey Hill
Illustration by Kelsey Hill

As a “good faith gesture,” UC President Janet Napolitano announced that the previously approved tuition increase ­— set at up to 5 percent for each of the next five years — will not affect the upcoming summer quarter.

“It is our conviction that all parties engaged in these negotiations want tuition to be as low as possible and as predictable as possible,” Napolitano said. “Moreover, as a matter of fairness, we want potential summer quarter students to enroll free from any uncertainty and unpredictability inherent in a fluid and still unresolved budget situation.”

Addressing the conversation about the cost of higher education in California, Napolitano delivered the 37th Earl V. Pullias lecture at the University of Southern California on Feb. 18.

The announcement to postpone the tuition increase until fall 2015 came amid ongoing negotiations with Gov. Jerry Brown regarding the UC budget. The UC regents appointed Brown and Napolitano as the only members of a select advisory committee to examine the UC’s cost structure.

Napolitano said the UC ­­— with funding from the state — expanded summer instruction programs in 2001. Between 2001 and 2014, the UC more than doubled its summer enrollment. Over 77,000 students participated in summer instruction in 2014.

“Systemwide summer 2014 headcount was 35 percent that of 2013-14 fall, winter and spring terms, ranging from 21 to 42 percent by campus,” Napolitano said. “Summer enrollments represent 22 percent of an average academic year term’s full time equivalent student enrollment.”

Summer quarter tuition fluctuates based on UC campus and length of summer session — each session varies from five to eight weeks.

Undergraduate students at UC Irvine, Los Angeles, Davis, Santa Barbara, San Diego and Santa Cruz pay $271 per credit, while students at Riverside pay $275 and students at UC Berkeley and Merced pay $406 per credit. Graduate students from certain campuses and students from outside of the UC pay more, with the exception of UC Davis and UCSC.

“The key to achieving significant enrollment growth in the summer has been to offer summer instruction that is critical to student progress toward graduation, along with essential student support services, access to libraries and student financial aid,” Napolitano said. “Expansion of summer enrollments has resulted in more efficient use of facilities and accelerated time to degree for undergraduates, thereby making room for more students during the regular year.”

UCSC fourth-year literature major Diana Jarvio, who took summer classes in 2014, called it “stressful” because she couldn’t afford both sessions.

“When I [enrolled], I didn’t realize how much it would cost me. It was a surprise when I got the bill,” Jarvio said. “Constantly having to worry about money instead of my education is not how I want future generations to [feel].”

UC Regent and Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) released a statement regarding Napolitano’s announcement that said, “I am pleased President Napolitano is beginning to walk back UC’s reliance on fee increases. With the Assembly beginning our top-to-bottom review of UC’s budget today, I am sure we will be able to identify savings, as well as increased state funding, that will help ensure UC remains a world-class treasure.”

Napolitano recently announced a plan to limit enrollment at current levels for the next year unless the state increases the UC’s funding by $218 million. The cap in enrollment would primarily affect California residents as enrollment of out-of-state and international students will continue to increase at every UC except UC Berkeley and UCLA. Atkins also addressed the Assembly’s commitment to “capping enrollment for out-of-state students” to ensure the availability and affordability of a UC education.