UC Regents to discuss professional school tuition proposal

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The UC Board of Regents will discuss a proposal for professional degree tuition at its meeting next week that holds tuition constant for many programs but increases fees for nursing and new degree programs.

Tuition would stay the same at all professional schools except the system’s four nursing programs and four newly created master’s degrees. Discussion on professional school fees for the coming year was postponed in November by Gov. Jerry Brown in the wake of the passage of Proposition 30.

Graduate students in academic programs, however, will not be affected by the fee proposal. Professional programs require supplemental tuition fees that other graduate students in academic programs do not pay. Professional programs include law, medicine and business degrees, and academic programs include studies in English, chemistry and history, among others.

According to UC spokesperson Dianne Klein, supplemental fees make sense because professional schools follow a very different funding model than undergraduate programs do — in large part due to the policy decisions of past state governments.

“Gov. Schwarzenegger, for example, believed that while the state had an obligation to fund undergraduate education, the professional schools should be the responsibility of the individual students,” Klein said in an email. “These were the future high earners—the physicians, lawyers and business people.”

The regents will still be asked to approve a fee increase for university’s nursing programs due to a lack of promised state and federal funding after a ramp-up of the nursing programs. The regents will consider approving new fees for new degree programs. Overall, 800 students will be affected by new charges.

“It isn’t very transparent when (the regents) do any fee increases over the summer when students aren’t on campus,” said Bahar Navab, president of the UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly.

UC Berkeley School of Social Welfare Dean Jeffrey L. Edleson said he is sympathetic to the rising costs of higher education and students’ struggles to pay bills.

“On the other hand, by freezing tuition and PDST increases we are actually cutting the University’s budget each year,” Edleson said in an email. “We simply cannot provide the world’s best public education on a shrinking budget year after year.”

Even if the proposal on professional degree tuition is enacted, it could be changed in as little as a year.

 We concluded that most of the programs can get by for one year on their existing fee levels,” Klein said. “This is not a long-term, sustainable proposition, but it is one we think we can do for a year.”

Contact Nico Correia and Sohan Shah at [email protected]

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that funds from Proposition 30 and a undergraduate tuition buyout by the state government would be used to freeze tuition for many of UC’s professional degree programs. In fact, these funding sources are not connected to the tuition of the programs.