Regents approve 32 percent student fee increase

Hundreds of students lay down to symbolize the "Death of Public Education," as they protest peacefully outside the UCLA campus Covel Commons building, where University of California regents were scheduled to vote on a 32 percent student fee increase, on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009. The UC Board of Regents is considering boosting undergraduate fees, the equivalent of tuition, by $2,500 by summer 2010. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

November 19, 2009 6:38:45 PM PST
University of California Regents voted to raise student fees by more than 30 percent Thursday afternoon. That set off protesters who blocked some of the exits after the meeting at U.C.L.A, trapping some of the regents inside.

Protesters demonstrated at U.C. campuses around the state, including U.C. Berkeley.

Low income families are not affected by this tuition hike. Low income is considered families making $70,000 or less and tuition is free for them. Really, it is the middle class that will feel a pinch because they will have a $2,500 increase a year and some middle class families don't qualify for financial aid.

Security around the regents was extremely tight as they left U.C.L.A.

Protesters were visibly upset about the tuition hike which will now go into effect in January -- 15 percent, then another 15 next fall.

The increase will bring in more than $500 million and a third of that money will go to financial aid.

"With the rest of the revenue, it would help do things such as restore some of the courses and some of the sections that have been canceled because of the budget cuts and that students might need to graduate on time," says UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez.

That's one of the major complaints students have expressed.

"I was trying to be on a certain path but because I have to wait until next semester to take come of these classes, I might have to graduate a semester later possibly or take classes over the summer," says student Caroline Lewis.

Thursday the regents also said families making less than 70,000 a year, will have their tuition waved. This would continue helping low income families.

"If you make less than $70,000 a year, you will not pay any fees. You not only won't pay the increase, you won't pay the base. And if you make between $70,000 and $120,000 we'll pay half of the increase in the initial year, so the axis is still there. The truth is it's people making more than $180,000 that are most adversely affected," says U.C. President Mark Yudof.

That means there is little relief for middle income families, especially those in the Bay Area where the cost of living is so high. Some students feel they are being squeezed out.

"I really do think so. They say your family makes certain amount of money, you should be able to pay for this, but what if your family isn't a supporter as they could be," says student Cristina Cojocaru.

At U.C. Berkeley some teachers canceled classes to support their students. Outside California Hall, some students threw piles of garbage to protest some of the layoffs.

The tuition hike will go to restore classes within the U.C. system, but also to hire more teachers and also bring back some normal library hours; remember, they too were cut. Finally, it should also restore some student services. In other words, according to the U.C. president to maintain the reputation of the U.C. system.

University of California regents safely left a U.C.L.A. building with the help of police escorts because angry protesters linked arms to block the exits.

In 2000, the cost of U.C. annual tuition and fees per year cost $2,716 and almost doubled in 2003 to $4,271. Now, it has jumped to $9,300.

AP contributed to this report.


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