UC President Janet Napolitano announces delay to planned tuition increase

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The university will delay implementation of a tuition hike previously set to start this summer, UC President Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday.

Napolitano announced during a lecture at the University of Southern California that the UC system will not implement tuition hikes for students during the upcoming summer quarter, as the legislature is still at work putting together a state budget. She said the UC Board of Regents wants students registering for summer courses to know what costs they face without any uncertainty.

According to Napolitano, “it is (the university’s) conviction that all parties engaged in these negotiations want tuition to be as low as possible, and as predictable as possible.”

The announcement came amid ongoing negotiations between Napolitano and Gov. Jerry Brown regarding the UC budget. Although the UC regents passed a tuition increase policy in November, the funding provided by Brown’s 2015-16 preliminary state budget plan is contingent on the university keeping tuition levels flat.

The tuition policy raises tuition by at least 5 percent per year for five years, assuming the state increases its funding to the university by 4 percent annually. The state, though, has the power to reduce or eliminate the increase through additional funding.

According to UC spokesperson Dianne Klein, the plan would have taken effect in the 2015 summer semester.

UC summer session fees differ according to campuses and length of sessions, although the increase would still have been 5 percent.

State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom both praised Napolitano’s announcement.

Newsom called the UC’s “U-turn” on tuition hikes an “overdue step in the right direction.”

“The reality remains that the UC is on a collision course with the future – with or without more state spending — unless and until the institution’s leadership can address the university’s long term cost structure,” Newsom said in a statement.

Some students, though, are calling for more student involvement in discussions concerning the UC budget.

“We are angry the conversations about the future of UC students are taking place solely between the governor and the UC president,” said Kevin Sabo, a UC Berkeley senior and chair of the UC Student Association. “Now, we’re angry that (we read) something this important … in the headlines of media outlets rather than being told directly.”

A select advisory committee, which will examine ways to reduce the university’s cost structure, was established in January with Brown and Napolitano as the only formal members. The committee will also include representatives from the offices of the governor and UC president, according to a UC press release.

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Caitlin Quinn said she does not consider the delay to be “a substantial reprieve” and believes that the continual pressure from students was a contributing factor.

“I just hope that students don’t lose their anger and passion,” Quinn said in an email. “More sustained anger, and protesting, and strategy, and lobbying will be needed to fully address this issue.”

Contact Jessie Qian at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @jessieq96.