The UC Board of Regents voted to increase UC tuition for the first time in five years at its Jan. 25-26 board meeting. The tuition will increase yearly by $282 for resident undergraduates and $1,688 for nonresident undergraduates along with a one-time $54 student services fee increase.
Although tuition was the focus of the discussion, the regents also discussed impacts of the state-mandated UC enrollment increase of 10,000 additional students by 2019, new UC housing expansion plans, budget approvals and the impact of a new Trump administration — especially its effects on undocumented students.
“The general student body does not support this proposal, but we want to work with you to find another way and have a say in how the funds will be allocated,” said Student Regent Marcela Ramirez at the board meeting on Thursday.
Ramirez agreed with the majority of the regents that improvements are needed after the systemwide enrollment increase created difficulties for students, staff and faculty. However, she and others urged the board to consider alternatives to a tuition increase.
Two-thirds of the tuition increase will help cover increased costs resulting from UC growth. These costs include improving student to faculty ratio, graduate student support, classrooms and increasing course offerings.
The student services fee increase will largely support improvements to UC mental health services.
One-third of the tuition increase will go back into supporting financial aid. This increase will fully cover the tuition raise for students who receive financial aid grants — about twothirds of students.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was one of four regents who voted against the tuition increase and said his main concern with increasing tuition was that he believes California should work toward lowering tuition instead of raising it.
Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships Office Patrick Register said UC Santa Cruz’s financial aid office will have more money to allocate toward grants, which can be used to support costs in a student’s budget like food, books and transportation.
But Register also said next year’s tuition is not yet set in stone. The UCSC financial aid budget is determined in part by the governor’s budget, which isn’t set until May or June. The amount of state funding has the potential to change the tuition increase amount.
“I am in favor of additional funds to support students in financial need,” Register said. “This modest increase in tuition will generate critical funding for the students on our campus.”
An additional concern for many is the future of support for middle class students, many of whom are currently supported by the fairly new Middle Class Scholarship (MCS). The future of the scholarship is uncertain because Gov. Brown has plans to phase it out, but students receiving the MCS can expect an increase in aid in the 2017-18 academic year because the scholarship will be fully in effect by then.
Before the tuition increase was passed, UCSC SUA Vice President of External Affairs Judith Gutierrez said the executive board at the University of California Student Association (UCSA) supports lowering UC tuition through increased state funding.
Gutierrez said the main alternatives the UCSA supports instead of a tuition increase are another tuition freeze or a reformation of Proposition 13 which would allow property taxes to be used to fund the UCs.
“If the regents decide to raise tuition, we will hold them accountable by ensuring that they fulfill our demands […] while still lobbying the state for funds,”
Gutierrez said in an email before the tuition increase was passed. The demands included transparency in spending made by the UC and funding for mental health services, housing, sexual assault and diversity. She could not be reached for further comment on the subject. Gutierrez said she understands many students are struggling with more than rising tuition.
“My office and I want to do our best to ensure that no matter what happens, students are protected and our education is funded,” she said in the previous email.