Campus graduate school of journalism may raise costs by more than $10,000

Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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The UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism may raise its costs by more than $10,000 beginning in the 2016-17 academic year to account for a funding deficit.

Edward Wasserman, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, sent an email Friday to students, faculty, alumni and other affiliates of the school alerting them of a $10,250 proposed supplemental fee submitted to the UC Board of Regents, the governing body of the university.

The tuition increase, which would bring in more than $1 million annually, would come in the form of Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition, which, unlike basic tuition, would go directly to the school of journalism. The regents could approve the proposal, reject the proposal, lower the proposed amount or phase it in under a different timeline from the one proposed by Wasserman.

“What redeems this is the prospect of making a successful career out of this,” Wasserman said. “We’re operating under the assumption that we will produce dazzlingly successful journalists.”

Wasserman said in the email it costs more to provide graduate degrees than students are currently paying. He cited inadequacy of financial support from the campus, understaffing, lack of technology upgrades and potentially rising faculty salaries as reasons for the increase.

Journalism graduate student Joaquin Palomino said the changing nature of the field causes many students to question the value of their degree.

“Why would someone want to pay so much money to get a degree that’s worth so little on the market?” Palomino said. “It’s what we love, but this is still discouraging for people in the lower or middle classes — people who don’t have the financial means.”

About 75 percent of the school’s students borrow money to finance their graduate education, and the new fee would add at most $152 per month to a 10-year repayment plan, according to Wasserman’s email. But the largest portion of revenue from the supplemental tuition would be allocated to financial aid and fellowships in an attempt to mitigate the increased cost burden.

Tuition and fees are currently $15,801.50 for California residents and $31,083.50 for out-of-state and international students.

“It’s hard for me to justify adding $10,000 a year because the regents and governor had a freeze in tuition,” said William Drummond, a professor in the journalism school. “I don’t care if it’s in the form of tuition or fees — it’s still money out of somebody’s pocket.”

Susan Cohen, a journalism graduate student, said charging more per student to generate money for financial aid creates an “endless cycle.” She added that many people choose UC Berkeley over other programs, such as the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, because of its lower price. Cohen said she would not have attended UC Berkeley’s journalism school with the additional fee.

Because the proposal had to be submitted to the regents in August, Wasserman wrote it without faculty approval with the intention of submitting faculty opinion later in the process.

“I think the faculty is going to be just as unwilling to do this as I was,” he said. “No one does this with any great joy, but it’s necessary.”

Three meetings will be held to discuss the proposal. Community members, alumni and current students may attend the second meeting, to be held Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at North Gate Library. The first meeting will be held Thursday for faculty and lecturers.

Contact Michelle Pitcher and Frances Fitzgerald at [email protected].