UC Board of Regents passes 3.5 percent out-of-state tuition hike

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Joshua Jordan/File

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After months of contention, the UC Board of Regents voted to raise tuition by 3.5 percent for out-of-state students starting this coming academic year during its board meeting Thursday.

The 3.5 percent nonresident supplemental tuition hike amounts to an increase of  $978,  bringing out-of-state tuition from $28,014 to $28,992. This vote sets the tone for the upcoming in-state tuition vote — a conversation that was postponed to May during a January meeting amid pushback, disagreements and protests.

The increase will generate $34.8 million in revenue, according to the proposed budget plan. The Thursday decision by the board comes after it was initially approved by the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee on Wednesday.

As the UC system continues to struggle to accommodate growing enrollment, UC President Janet Napolitano stated during the meeting that approving the tuition hike was in the “best interest” of the university.

“Nonresident student admittees deserve to know now while they are making their decision on what their tuition costs will be,” Napolitano said. “Advocacy in Sacramento should be focused on getting a buyout of the in-state tuition increase. Reality needs to intrude here.”

ASUC Office of External Affairs State Lobby Corps Manager Prerana Nadig, who was part of the External Affairs team that visited Sacramento to lobby for state funding of the UC on Thursday, said she “couldn’t help but laugh” at Napolitano’s statement about the tuition hike being in the university’s “best interest.”

“This isn’t in the best interests of the school and these students and the university as whole,” Nadig said.

With this vote, total out-of-state tuition would be raised from $40,644 to $41,622.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who sits on the board, said during the meeting that the decision was “unfortunate” and “at just the wrong time.” He added that the UC system should have maintained pressure on the state legislature to receive additional funding instead.

Despite the finance committee’s recommendation, Thursday’s vote still had its fair share of pushback from several regents, and the vote passed 12-3 with Regents Paul Monge, John Pérez and Newsom dissenting.

The board is set to vote on a proposed tuition increase for in-state students of $348 at its May meeting.

Before the UC regents voted Thursday, some UC international students provided public comment.

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Rigel Robinson said although he believed the tuition vote was predictable, the inclusion of nonresident students in the discussion was novel because “they don’t often have a say in these discussions.”

At the meeting, regents and campus representatives discussed other UC issues, including the student population growth outpacing the growth of faculty, classrooms and housing spaces. They also presented a recent poll about the UC student experience, which was shown to be in decline.

UC Student Association President Judith Gutierrez, who was invited by the regents to speak before the vote, urged the regents not to raise the tuition. She referenced overflowing classrooms and the housing crisis across UC campuses, and she said the tuition increase was a “Band-Aid solution.” Gutierrez advocated instead for state lobbying for more UC funding.

“How can we expect students to pay more for their decreasing quality of education?” Gutierrez asked. “We’ve turned a blind eye to the needs of students, and you can’t keep ignoring them.”

Contact Ani Vahradyan and Mary Kelly Ford at [email protected].