UC may face midyear cuts, additional tuition increases

Though state financial support for the University of California has already been slashed by $650 million, should midyear tax revenues not materialize, the university faces the possibility of an additional $100 million cut — and an additional 5.9 percent tuition increase.

According to an agenda item for the upcoming meeting of the UC Board of Regents, if the state does not realize $4 billion in tax revenues and if the university receives the entire $100 million reduction from the state, a 5.9 percent tuition increase would be required to cover the cut, “over and above the increase planned for 2012-13.”

Patrick Lenz, the vice president for budget and capital resources for the UC Office of the President, said that if such an increase were recommended, it would likely be a midyear increase for the 2011-12 school year.

“That’s put in there to recognize that we may be still under some challenging fiscal times with the state,” Lenz said. “So hypothetically, we may be coming back to the regents in November to advise them … about whether or not we’re going to take an additional $100 million cut. At the exact same time we’re proposing a budget for 2012-13.”

Lenz added, however, that it is not certain the 2012-13 budget would include a fee increase recommendation. The 5.9 percent increase, he said, would not replace any action that may need to be taken for the 2012-13 budget but would merely address the $100 million cut the university may take in 2011-12.

“The budget passed and signed relies on a lot of things that are questionable,” said Student Regent Alfredo Mireles, Jr. “The biggest questionable element is the expected $4 billion in increased revenue during this fiscal year that legislators and the governor are relying on. We really have to wait and see, because with the vicissitudes of the California state budget, you never really know.”

Additionally, the agenda states a date for the implementation of the proposed 9.6 percent tuition increase: fall 2011.

This proposed increase would be on top of the 8 percent increase approved by the regents last November, bringing total tuition to $11,220 and total student fees to $12,192 for the 2011-12 academic year.

However, because the increase would not affect tuition levels for this summer, the university would lose approximately $10.4 million in revenue that could have been generated from the increase, though alternate revenue strategies may be employed to cover this portion of the reduction, the agenda states.

The Academic Council — the administrative arm of the systemwide Academic Senate — adopted a resolution June 30 advising UC President Mark Yudof to request the regents increase mandatory systemwide charges effective in the fall of 2011 to offset the additional $150 million reduction in state funding.

“The Council is dismayed by the State’s continuing disinvestment in higher education,” a letter from the Academic Council reads. “Our advice to request an additional fee increase is based on Council’s recognition that the University cannot maintain its excellence with the State’s budgeted funding and must find additional revenue.”

As a way to increase the amount of financial aid to students during this time of fee increases, Lenz said the university is looking in to alternative fundraising efforts that could generate revenue for financial aid, rather than taking funds from student fee revenue.

“In order to increase, on the margin, our financial aid, we’ve got to find other resources to do it and not take from student fee revenue,” he said. “If we had to take it from the student fee revenue, the percentage increases would be much higher in order to achieve a higher level of resources. And we don’t want to do that.”

Allie Bidwell is the news editor.