Students may see third year without tuition hike, preliminary UC budget shows

The proposed UC budget for 2014-15 maintains the resident undergraduate tuition level of $12,192. This freeze in tuition, which is part of a 
plan seeking to reinvest in academic programs that have been affected by cuts to funding, comes just a year after the passage of Prop. 30.
Dean Ignacio/File
The proposed UC budget for 2014-15 maintains the resident undergraduate tuition level of $12,192. This freeze in tuition, which is part of a plan seeking to reinvest in academic programs that have been affected by cuts to funding, comes just a year after the passage of Prop. 30.

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The University of California may see its third straight year with no tuition hike, pending the approval of a preliminary budget for 2014-15 that the UC Board of Regents will discuss next week.

The proposed budget maintains the resident undergraduate tuition of $12,192, which has not changed since the 2011-12 school year. The proposal to continue a tuition freeze comes just a year after the passage of Proposition 30, a California ballot initiative that raised taxes to save the university from a $250 million midyear cut to funding and offered the state much needed financial support for public higher education. The university will discuss the preliminary budget, which includes the proposed tuition freeze, at its three-day meeting at UCSF Mission Bay next week.

The university’s proposed budget for 2014-15 reflects a more financially optimistic plan, involving not only a continued tuition freeze but also proposals to reinvest in academic programs that have suffered major cuts in recent years. Still, these plans are partially reliant on a major increase in state funding for the university.

“Despite the passage of Proposition 30, however, the increase in state funds for UC has not made up for the nearly $1 billion in state funding cuts over five years,” said UC spokesperson Dianne Klein in an email. “We are hopeful additional investment will be made in 2014-15 so that we may avoid a tuition increase and help students and their families keep their spending on higher education within their budgets.”

Klein said it is too early to tell whether a tuition freeze will be implemented.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s multiyear funding plan has allocated $146.2 million in increased state funding to the university for 2014-15 — funds that are contingent on the university maintaining current tuition and fee levels. The proposed UC budget, however, requests an additional $120.9 million in state support to aid the university’s retirement program, increase enrollment by 1 percent and “reinvest” in academics.

This reinvestment is intended to bolster support for academic sectors that have been “particularly affected by the budget cuts in recent years,” according to the regents’ agenda. The preliminary budget requests $35 million in state funds to decrease the student-faculty ratio, enhance instructional support for undergraduates and increase support for new faculty members, among other projects.

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While the university seeks more state funding, Klein said, it continues to pursue additional revenue sources and greater systemwide efficiency. The preliminary budget assumes the university will increase nonresident enrollment by 2,000 students, which is estimated to bring in about $26 million in additional revenue. The budget also assumes the university will receive $25 million from new philanthropic ventures.

The UC system has focused on increasing nonresident enrollment for a number of years. The regents debated increasing nonresident enrollment at their meeting last November, during which former UC student regent Jonathan Stein expressed concern that nonresident students are enrolled at higher levels at larger UC schools, such as UC Berkeley and UCLA.

UC Student Regent Cinthia Flores echoed this sentiment in a response to the 2014-15 budget plan.

“California high school students and community college transfers must remain the focus of UC admissions,” Flores said in an email. “Additionally, increase in nonresident enrollment must be equal amongst the nine campuses; anything to the contrary would be a disservice to the campus and student population.”

Flores said she expects the regents will pass the proposed budget without contention.

The regents will also discuss recruitment of doctoral students, private philanthropic support for the university and a variety of capital-improvement projects at their three-day meeting. They will convene Tuesday.

Libby Rainey is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @rainey_l.

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