UC Regents weigh possible tuition hikes

September 15, 2011 6:05:45 PM PDT
University of California students who currently pay about $12,000 a year could eventually pay as much as $22,000 for tuition.

UC regents heard the proposal on Thursday at the UCSF's Mission Bay campus. It was a discussion before the regents vote on their next budget in November.

For the most part, the regents agreed the tuition hike is unthinkable. The upshot was to find another source for funding.

The University of California system has seen fewer dollars coming in from the state every year, with budget cuts and tuition increases being left to help balance the budget.

A proposed plan would bring steady income, and therefore economic stability, to the ten campuses. Under that plan, tuition increases would be dependent on how much more money Sacramento is willing to give the system over the next four years.

For example, if there is an eight percent increase in state funding, tuition would go up eight percent every year for four years. If, however, there is no state funding increase, then students would face a 16 percent tuition hike every four years.

By the year 2016, tuition would have increased to $22,000.

"All these funding decisions involve the university making long-term commitments," said Nathan Brostrom with the UC Business Operations. "The university cannot make such commitments without a stable and predictable funding.

Needless to say, the regents didn't like what they heard.

"They may not be able to send their kids to college," said Regent Sherry Lansing. "What a horrible thought is that? They may not be able to afford it."

That's a concern shared by many students and by the lieutenant governor.

"This is not going to work," said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. "I appreciate the need to build a multi-year strategy, but this needs to be rejected from my humble perspective."

But UC President Mark Yudof said without tuition hikes, the UC system would be crippled.

"There are things we can do," Yudof said. "We can freeze the size of the faculty, we can increase class size. We can lengthen the time for graduation. These are not healthy for the University of California."

The regents are desperate to find a solution other than balancing the budget on the backs of the students.

"Should we mount a public campaign?" questioned Lansing. "Should we have PSAs on the air? Look for outside funding?"

"Get real, and don't fool yourselves into thinking that the legislature is going to turn around, or you will be waiting for Godel," said Regent David Crane.

Regent Richard Blum suggests finding a new source of funding.

"Tell me why you don't go to a Chevron? Why you don't go to an Apple, to Cisco, to Google?" said Blum. "All these companies are sitting with billions of dollars of money. They don't know what to do with it."

There was no vote on Thursday and the issue may not even make it to the November budget vote. The Vice President of Business Operations said it was unlikely because there are too many other options to discuss.

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