Rankings show UC and CSU tuition fastest growing in the nation

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The cost of tuition at various UC and CSU campuses is rising faster than costs at other colleges around the country, according to a Department of Education college cost ranking published Tuesday.

The rankings calculate increases from the 2008-09 academic year to the 2010-11 academic year and show that the UC campuses at Berkeley, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, Santa Cruz, San Diego and Irvine as well as the CSU campuses at Long Beach and Chico all experienced a tuition increase of at least 40 percent between those years.

UC spokesperson Dianne Klein said the numbers were not surprising and pointed to the “unprecedented” budget cutbacks at the state level as the reason for the tuition increases.

“If you look at comparable institutions, the UC system is still relatively cheaper,” Klein said.

CSU spokesperson Erik Fallis stated that while every system across the country is facing budget cuts, the UC and CSU systems kept tuition costs low throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, unlike other national education systems, which raised costs during that period.

“When the cuts from the early 2000’s and from the last five years came, we had to have higher tuition increases to make up the difference,” Fallis said.

According to a report by Hans Johnson, senior policy fellow and Bren fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, the nationwide average tuition increase between the 2007-08 and the 2010-11 school years was 19 percent for campuses with comparable enrollment rates to the CSU campuses and 24 percent for those comparable to the UC.

Klein said the UC system is using a combination of layoffs, program consolidation and philanthropic support in order to combat the budget cuts. She also said the universities are looking to implement more system wide efficiencies.

Like the UC system, the CSU system has implemented layoffs and are also consolidating units and vice presidents. Fallis asserted that only half of the deficit caused by budget cuts has been made up through tuition increases, with the rest of the money coming from cuts to other areas.

“State support represents half of the overall CSU budget, so we’ve been cutting and cutting a lot,” Fallis said.

Klein cited the Working Smarter initiative as being integral to their efforts to keep the UC system an affordable option. The initiative, launched in July 2010, streamlines operations across the UC’s 10 campuses using an efficient administrative framework. UC officials say the program will save the university $500 million in five years and reported last July that it had already saved $157 million after one year.

Klein emphasized that the UC system was working diligently to keep the universities affordable for all students. However, the UC Board of Regents approved a 9.6 percent fee increase last July in response to state budget cuts and will be considering a further 6 percent increase when they meet next month.

ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President Natalie Gavello said in an email that she hopes the regents will not increase tuition any further, since many students are already struggling.

“The intention of a tuition increase is to maintain the quality of education during these tough times, but we can’t forget one of the main platforms the UC system was founded upon — a great education that everyone can afford,” Gavello said in the email.