SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — University of California regents will pass a proposal on Thursday for a multi-year tuition increase that officials say is needed to keep campuses competitive, increase support for low-income students and give families financial predictability .
The proposal, dubbed the “forever hike” by opponents, would be the first increase in state tuition and fees for the 10-campus system since 2017.
The proposal calls for tuition and tuition fees to be increased by 2% plus inflation for new students from the 2022-2023 academic year and to remain the same for those students for a maximum of six years. It would increase by smaller percentages for each of the next incoming classes until the 2026-27 academic year, when an increase would be based solely on inflation.
UC officials estimate this will top out at $534 per undergraduate student over the next academic year, bringing tuition and system-wide costs to just over $13,000 per year for in-state students. The estimate does not include additional campus-related fees.
Even with an increased $11 billion in California’s budget for UC this year, officials say state funding has not kept pace with enrollment growth. State funding has increased from nearly $40,000 per student in 2000 to an estimated $25,200 in 2021, the office says, while enrollment numbers have increased from 171,000 to 292,000 over the same period.
Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, warned of tuition increases for both UC and the California State University system in January when he released his original state budget.
Students plan to protest outside the UC president’s office in Oakland on Thursday, saying California is full of cash and college debt is too high. California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis and both leaders of the California legislature also say they oppose the walks.
“Just as students and families continue to struggle to recover from the ill effects of this pandemic, this proposal would block unfair increases in fees for the foreseeable future,” the UC Student Association said in a statement, calling the proposal a “forever .”
The office of UC President Michael Drake said an accompanying increase in financial aid would more than offset the increase in tuition fees. Only students whose families earn $150,000 a year or more would benefit from keeping tuition the same, it said, while everyone else would benefit from increased financial support.
The University of California has a strong public mission and is invaluable in promoting social and economic mobility, Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of Berkeley Law, said in an op-ed published last year to support the increase.
“For a public university, there are only three choices: the state subsidizes, or the tuition goes up, or the quality goes down,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “The only way to ensure that the University of California continues to excel is to make sure it has enough money.”
The UC president’s office said that state tuition and campus costs at comparable public universities in Virginia, Illinois and Michigan average around $17,000, with increases of 24% to 56% since 2011, while UC tuition fees has increased by 6%.
The board of regents was due to vote on a version of the tuition fee proposal in March 2020, but postponed action amid the pandemic.
© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.