The history of UC tuition since 1868

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Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

The University of California, originally consisting solely of UC Berkeley’s campus, has the distinction of being California’s first public university. At the UC system’s inception, tuition was free for California residents. Over the years, student fees increased, and by the 1970s, the university moved away from free tuition for residents. Here is a look back at how the cost of education has changed since the UC system was first created.

1868: The Organic Act charters the University of California. It creates the UC Board of Regents as a governing body and roughly outlines the board’s financial and admissions responsibilities. It states:

“For the time being, an admission fee and rates of tuition such as the Board of Regents shall deem expedient may be required of each pupil; and as soon as the income of the University shall permit, admission and tuition shall be free to all residents of the state.”

1897: Financial aid is established for “needy and deserving students.”

1921: Though tuition is still free, California residents are now required to pay an “incidental fee” of $25 per year to cover services not related to instruction. Tuition for nonresidents is $75 per year.

1956: Incidental fee is $84 per year. Tuition for nonresidents is $300 per year. Tuition is still “free” for California residents.

Clark Kerr

Dale Winling/Creative Commons

1960: The California Master Plan, largely developed by Clark Kerr, supports keeping the UC system tuition-free for California residents but maintains that fees should be charged to cover costs coming from areas such as laboratories, health and athletics.

“The two governing boards reaffirm the long established principle that state colleges and the University of California shall be tuition free to all residents of the state.”

1968: Registration fee for all students is $300 per year. Nonresident tuition is $1,200 per year. Tuition is still free for all California residents.

1970: In a symbolic move away from free tuition for residents, students must now pay an additional “educational fee.” The fee is $150 per year for undergraduate students and $180 per year for graduate students.

1974: The state funds approximately 32 percent of the total UC budget.

1975-76: Annual tuition and fees for resident UC undergraduates total $630. Annual tuition and fees for nonresident UC undergraduates total $2,130.

1985-86: Annual tuition and fees for resident UC undergraduates total $1,296. Annual tuition and fees for nonresident UC undergraduates total $5,112.

1995-96: Annual tuition and fees for resident UC undergraduates total $4,354. Annual tuition and fees for nonresident UC undergraduates total $12,053.

2004: Then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, then-UC President Robert Dynes and then-CSU Chancellor Charles Reed strike a private deal, called the Higher Education Compact, to increase reliance on private student fees.

“In order to help maintain quality and enhance academic and research programs, UC will continue to seek additional private resources and maximize other fund sources available to the University to support basic programs.”

Tony Zhou/Staff

2004-05: The state funds approximately 16 percent of the total UC budget.

2005-06: Annual tuition and fees for resident UC undergraduates total $7,434. Annual tuition and fees for nonresident UC undergraduates total $25,254.

2009: The UC Board of Regents votes to increase tuition by 32 percent, pushing annual costs to more than $10,000. UC students protest by occupying buildings.

2011: The Occupy movement rocks UC campuses. Incorporated in Occupy’s message is discontent with budget cuts and rising tuition.

2011: For the first time, the total amount UC students pay in tuition exceeds the amount of funding the UC system receives from the state.

2011-12: Annual tuition and fees for resident UC undergraduates total $14,460. Annual tuition and fees for nonresident UC undergraduates total $37,338.

2012-13: 42 percent of UC Berkeley undergraduates receive loans, with an average loan amount of $4,867. Undergraduate students owe an average of $19,468 by graduation.

Ariel D. Hayat/Staff

Ariel D. Hayat/Senior Staff

2012-13: Tuition is now “the largest single source of core operating funds.” Students contribute nearly $3 billion in tuition and fees, versus the $2.38 billion the state contributes.

2013: Approximately 64 percent of UC Berkeley undergraduates receive financial aid, including grants, scholarships, work study and loans.

Now: After a three-year tuition freeze, the UC Board of Regents voted Nov. 2o to increase student fees by up to 5 percent over the next 5 years.

Image Sources: Image 1, edited by Lilia Vega

Contact Lilia Vega at [email protected].