A legislative committee will be meeting into the week to discuss Gov. Jerry Brown’s UC funding plan and potential additional funding for enrollment growth, among other budgetary issues.
The legislative committee, a group of state senators and Assembly members, will produce a budget bill that both the Assembly and state Senate could pass and that would then go to the governor for signing. The committee will consider some changes to an agreement reached between Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano on May 14 that includes a $119.5 million increase in state funding for the UC system in exchange for freezing resident tuition rates until after the 2016-17 school year.
UC spokesperson Dianne Klein said that neither the agreement nor current legislative budget plans provide funding for highly demanded enrollment growth.
“The University wants to, and has capacity to, grow enrollment,” Klein said in an email. The university plans to increase California enrollment by about 10,000 students over the next four years, provided it gets $50 million in permanent state funding in 2015-16 and again in 2016-17, she said.
The Joint Legislative Budget Conference Committee aims to consolidate different budget proposals from the state Senate and Assembly.
Senate changes to UC funding focus on nonresident students, including a 12 percent increase in nonresident supplemental tuition and a redirection of financial aid funds that currently go to nonresident financial aid to education quality instead, according to a document from the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
The current UC budget plan includes an 8 percent — rather than 12 percent — increase in nonresident supplemental tuition. The additional 4 percent would be used for enrollment growth to fund the enrollment of 2,400 resident students, according to the committee agenda.
Assembly changes include $35 million in additional funding to enroll 8,000 new students, contingent on the university meeting eight conditions, according to the same document. In addition to admitting the additional 8,000 students, these conditions include increasing nonresident supplemental tuition by 8 percent, reducing nonacademic costs by $10 million in 2016-17 and requiring greater transparency with personnel and educational cost reports.
Increasing student enrollment has been a key issue for higher education in California, according to Hans Johnson, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. He said public universities have been forced to turn away tens of thousands of eligible students because of a lack of funding.
“Big picture, it is good for the state to accommodate more students in the state education system,” Johnson said. “Anything like that is a step in the right direction.”
UC Student Association President Jefferson Kuoch-Seng said the UCSA supports the majority of the Assembly’s plan as a way to increase student enrollment.