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UC System to Consider Long-Term Student Tuition Increases of Up to 5% a Year

The University of California could raise tuition next year — abandoning a planned fee freeze — to the chagrin of university students and at least one high-ranking elected state official.

The UC Office of the President late last week announced plans to recommend that the UC Regents approve a five-year stability plan, which would allow annual tuition and student fee increases of up to 5 percent for undergraduates and graduate students over five years, beginning in fall of 2015.

Increases would depend on the level of state funding the UC System receives, and tuition could rise by the entire 5 percent or not at all.

For fall of 2015, the maximum increase would be $612.

The regents are to consider the plan at a Nov. 19 meeting in San Francisco9, but student groups and other stakeholders are already up in arms.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom condemned UC for threatening to break a two-year tuition-freeze agreement, made in 2013, in exchange for state funding.

“The University of California cannot bestow pay raises on its top earners with one hand, while continually taking more from students and their families with the other and deflecting criticism by laying its solution at the door of taxpayers,” he said in a statement.

“New funding must be tied to earnest and innovative attempts to reduce the university’s cost structure and promote affordability and accessibility, not threats that reward the status quo.”

UC Santa Barbara’s Associated Students expressed disappointment with the UC System, as well as with Gov. Jerry Brown’s office for making students foot the bulk of their educational fees.

“The Associated Students of UCSB is deeply concerned about the commitment of both Governor Brown and the Regents to the future of higher education,” Associated Students president Ali Guthy said in a statement.

“As a result, Associated Students will be providing transportation for UCSB students to attend the upcoming UC Regents meeting to address the consistent abandonment by the Board of Regents, the Office of the President, the California Legislature and by Governor Brown. Additional information regarding these transportation services and lobbying efforts will be released shortly.”

The UC Student Association, a statewide group, claimed the proposed plan doesn’t prioritize students and holds their educations hostage.

Student leaders were also upset they weren’t included in developing the plan.

“Students fail to see how this plan provides any greater level of predictability than today’s current situation,” the group said. “The UC plan demands that Governor Brown and the Legislature uphold their part of the Stability Plan, while the UC now wants to break their side of the agreement, which was to freeze student tuition.”

UC President Janet Napolitano touted the plan as one providing low, predictable tuition and more access for California students while maintaining the university’s robust financial aid program and investing in educational quality.

The plan is meant to allow at least 5,000 more California students to enroll over five years, reduce the student-faculty ratio, increase course selection and lessen the time to graduation — all assuming an increase in state support of at least 4 percent.

The UC System would allocate nearly all new tuition dollars toward educating students, and try to hold down administrative costs, according to Napolitano.

Students might not be on board, but chancellors from all 10 UC campuses, including UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang, have issued a statement of support. 

“The plan addresses our obligation to students and their families to provide them with the best education possible at the most affordable price,” they wrote. “It is predictable and fair, and it allows families to plan ahead. It enables us to enroll thousands more California students, maintains our robust financial aid program, and makes essential investments in academic quality.

“It is important to note that under this proposed plan, about 55 percent of our California undergraduates will continue to pay no system-wide tuition or fees.

“We hope students, families, alumni, faculty, staff and all Californians join with us in urging the state to partner with us in ensuring that the University of California remains the best public university in the world.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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