UC proposes tuition hike after 6-year freeze

Mikaela Raphael/File
Students from across the UC system travel to the UC Board of Regents meeting at UCSF Mission Bay in November to protest a potential rise in tuition after a two-year freeze ends at the start of the 2017-18 school year. The university announced its proposal of a $282 tuition hike Wednesday.

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The UC Board of Regents will weigh a $282 annual tuition increase for the first time since 2011 at its January meeting.

If the hike is approved, tuition across the UC system would rise by 2.5 percent in the 2017-18 academic year, according to a Wednesday UC press release. A $54 student service fee to improve mental health services would accompany the hike. UC Berkeley’s in-state tuition and fees are currently $13,510, and out-of-state tuition and fees are $40,192.

“We’ve reached the point where it is critical that we make these investments in UC’s academic excellence,” said UC spokesperson Dianne Klein in the press release.

Despite the looming hikes, more than two-thirds of UC undergraduates would have the increases covered by financial aid. One-third of the revenue that comes from the tuition increase would fund need-based aid for in-state students, “boosting the amount of aid available for housing, food, books and transportation,” Klein said in the release.

The extra revenue would also help cover the costs of hiring more faculty; improving academic counseling, tutoring and mental health resources; adding teachers’ assistants; and bolstering support for graduate students.

The proposal comes amid a record year for UC applications: The number of in-state applicants to all nine undergraduate campuses nearly tripled from the previous year, increasing by 6 percent. The Berkeley campus alone saw a 7.7 increase in California applicants.

Before a tuition hike was preliminarily passed in November 2014, protests erupted across the UC system, including a massive occupation of UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Hall. The regents ultimately voted to increase tuition by up to 5 percent per year for the next five years.

Under an agreement reached by Gov. Jerry Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano in May 2015, however, resident tuition was frozen for the next two years, while an approximately $1,830 annual increase in nonresident supplemental tuition was approved.

In June 2015, the state Legislature stipulated the enrollment of 5,000 more in-state students across the UC system in the 2016-17 school year, in exchange for $25 million of additional state funding. At the time, Klein voiced skepticism about the university’s ability to accommodate the influx of students with an increase of only $25 million in state funding.

“We estimate that we would have the capacity to enroll an additional 3,500 students by 2016-17 if adequate funding is provided to do so,” she said in an email to The Daily Californian in June 2015.

In fall 2016, UC Berkeley absorbed 750 additional students from the previous year — a 2 percent growth in the student population — causing alarm among faculty and students who feared there were no concrete plans to bolster academic infrastructure.

The UC system intends to absorb a total of 10,000 additional students by 2018.

“A six-year tuition freeze, coupled with rising California student enrollment and state funding that hasn’t fully recovered from recession-era cuts has resulted in a critical need to invest more in core student services and academic excellence,” the UC press release said.

The regents will discuss the increases at their UCSF Mission Bay campus meeting Jan. 25 and 26.

Check back for updates.

Andrea Platten is the managing editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @andreaplatten.