UC panel recommends 32-percent fee increase

People hold a strike sign in Sproul Plaza during a large rally on the University of California, Berkeley campus in Berkeley, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009. Financially hobbled University of California moved Wednesday to boost student fees by 32 percent over two years as students staged raucous demonstrations against the higher costs. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
November 18, 2009 5:36:58 PM PST
There is more bad news for University of California students, both present and future. A 32-percent fee increase has been approved and a lot of people are upset. According to the regents, the recommended tuition increase is expected to bring in more than $500 million to cover the projected budget deficit.

There were several demonstrations around the state Wednesday including at UCLA. Teachers and students boycotted classes and hit the streets in protest. Students at UC Berkeley made their frustration known as well, although theirs was a gentle one in contrast to the one at UCLA.

Fourteen students there were arrested after refusing to leave a meeting where the regents finance committee discussed increasing fees. After the room was cleared, the panel recommended a 15-percent increase in tuition beginning in January and another 15 percent in the summer and fall.

"Maybe we can find other budget cuts that we haven't found," UC President Mark Yudof said Wednesday. "Could be that there would be substantial additional layoffs."

UC Berkeley had a big demonstration with more than a thousand students gathered at Sproul Plaza.

"I think inevitably, fee hikes are necessary," Cal student Antonio Wlassowsky told ABC7. "But, the extent to which they are raising the fee hikes in one go, is incredibly monstrous."

The 32-percent increase means students will pay an additional $2,500 per year, pushing tuition over $10,000. It is the eighth hike since 2002.

"My parents are self-employed right now and they're paying for my tuition out-of-pocket. I don't get financial aid," said UC Davis student Lauren Corcios. "I don't have any loans right now. I currently have three jobs and I'm going to have to apply for a loan really soon."

Betty Olson Jones heads the teachers union for Oakland's public schools. She says the increase sends a contradictory message to students.

"I look at what they're telling our students every day. Every child needs to go to college. Every child needs to get a good job," she said. "And yet, when they graduate, the kids that do, that aren't pushedout, they can't go to college. They can't afford the loans."

As promised, many UC teachers canceled classes to show their support for the students.

"I still have homework and papers to write for all of my classes, and I'm still expected to get those done and turned in when I get back to class," Cal student Hannah Len told ABC7. "But, we'll make up what time we've lost."

ABC7 was told repeatedly how low-income students would be affected by the tuition increase, but the reality is that if a student's family makes less than $60,000 a year, they will waive the fee, meaning that tuition is free.

On Thursday, the full board of regents will vote to increase that number to $70,000.


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