UC tuition hike only option amid state divestment

UNIVERSITY ISSUES: Freeze in tuition for the past six years was never viable solution for University

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Willow Yang/Senior Staff

After six years of living in a frozen paradise, UC students once again face the possibility of increased tuition. And this time, it’s not only reasonable — it’s necessary, for all the wrong reasons.

The UC Board of Regents has proposed a $282 tuition increase that would go into effect in the next academic year. The hike would affect most nonresidents and roughly one-third of residents, leaving the two-thirds of in-state students who can least afford it unscathed.

While it may be tempting to blame the UC system for disregarding students’ financial concerns, a quick alternative fix does not exist.

The state has failed to provide adequate funding for the university, leaving two options, both of which would lead to backlash. It can either increase enrollment — to the benefit of nonresidents, who pay more in tuition and fees — or it can increase tuition systemwide.

At UC Berkeley, we have seen the detrimental impacts of increased enrollment: overcrowded classrooms, housing insecurity and overstrained campus infrastructure.

In the meantime, the small tuition hike can alleviate these problems and give the university more money to improve services.

While many universities increase their tuition every year to accommodate for inflation, the University of California has not increased tuition since 2011. If it had, tuition at UC Berkeley would have risen a total of $747.58 since 2011.

Still, the state continues to pressure the UC system to further increase enrollment. In 2015, the state and the regents discussed a plan wherein the university would increase its enrollment by 10,000 students over the next three years in exchange for $25 million in state funding.

A two-year freeze proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015, while surely popular among in-state students, was never a viable or fair solution for the university.

Worse yet, someone had to make up for the revenue loss: While in-state tuition has stagnated, nonresidents have paid a 5.4 percent yearly increase in their supplemental tuition since 2015. Meanwhile, a 2016 state audit found that increasing nonresident enrollment has disadvantaged resident students.

Faced with the continual threat of state divestment, the university has recognized that, judging from past systemwide protests, students would call out an unreasonable tuition increase. The $282 hike merely asks in-state students to pay a share of the burden that their nonresident peers had, until now, shouldered alone.

We have not seen the end of tuition increases and should expect more after this is approved. As students, we must never grow complacent with rising costs of tuition, no matter how small. Our dollars may hold off the university’s financial collapse for the time being, but the system, the state and the taxpayers must be held accountable for divestment from public higher education.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

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