UC regents committee passes 3.5 percent out-of-state tuition hike, clearing way for final approval Thursday

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Joshua Jordan/File

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The UC Board of Regents’ Finance and Capital Strategies Committee approved a 3.5 percent, or $978, increase on the nonresident supplemental tuition starting in the 2018-19 school year at its regular meeting Wednesday — sending it to the UC Board of Regents for a final vote.

The final vote on the hike will take place Thursday during the full board meeting, and it will increase out-of-state tuition from $28,014 to $28,992 starting in the 2018-19 school year. The proposed increases have been met with opposition from students and UC community members since their conception in September 2017.

“In all honesty, it’s definitely a sad day,” said Kosi Ogbuli, a coordinator for ASUCLA’s external vice president, or EVP. “This is the testament of how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. … We should be living in a system in which education is a right rather than a privilege.”

Originally a single item on the January regents meeting agenda, the tuition hikes are elements of the 2018-19 budget plan. In May, the regents will vote on whether or not to increase in-state tuition by $341, or 2.7 percent.

The increase in nonresident tuition will generate a revenue of $34.8 million, according to the proposed budget plan.

The tuition increase was one of two parts of a single action item— the other component rescinded the approval of an increase in the university employer contribution rate to the UC retirement plan, which was approved during a regents meeting in July 2017.

Using the funds generated from the increase, the UC Office of the President plans to make the UC system more accessible to in-state students and more affordable for students with financial needs, according to the plan’s executive summary. The summary stated that the hikes will also allow for investments in student success, such as improving the student-to-faculty ratio, increasing course availability and expanding access to student mental health services.

Some members of the board of regents, however, questioned whether increasing student tuition was the most appropriate way to fund these initiatives. Shane White, faculty representative to the regents, said during the board meeting that increased state support for the university was long overdue.

“There are only two major sources of institutional support: tuition and state support,” White said in the meeting.

Ever since the decision was delayed, students and university officials alike have been advocating for more funding from the state legislature — Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal increased higher education funding by 3 percent, which was less than anticipated, according to a UC Office of the President statement from Jan. 10.

Board of Regents Chair George Kieffer agreed that decreases in state support for higher education have dramatic negative impacts on students. Kieffer, drawing statistics from the current operations budget, said in the board meeting that UC now has 31 percent less available funding per student than was available in 2000.

Many university stakeholders took to the floor during the board meetings public comment section to express their disapproval of the tuition hike, and protests organized by the ASUCLA EVP took place during meetings throughout the day.

California State Treasurer John Chiang made a statement during public comment against the tuition hike, saying that today’s students “simply cannot afford more burdens.”

Rigel Robinson, the external affairs vice president for the ASUC, said although the item still has to be approved by the full Board of Regents, the final vote is unlikely to be any different from the first.

“It is not sustainable, and not in the best interest of the university to rely on nonresident tuition as a core of its funding,” Robinson said. “The government is building up a robust rainy day fund right now. What’s being forgotten, and what’s being missed, is that for many students across the state, it is raining — it is pouring.”

Contact Sakura Cannestra and Shayann Hendricks at [email protected].

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the UC Board of Regents approved the 3.5 percent tuition hike for nonresidents. In fact, a UC Regents committee approved the increase.