Campus students disappointed by potential tuition hike

Michael Drummond/Senior Staff
Hundreds of students gather on Sproul Plaza in November 2014 to protest the proposed tuition hikes ahead of a UC Regents meeting.

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Despite protests of tuition hikes at the UC Board of Regents meeting in November, the UC Office of the President announced in a statement Wednesday that the regents have proposed a tuition increase for the 2017-18 academic year.

In its Wednesday press release, UCOP detailed the proposed annual tuition increase of $282 to cover costs related to improving student support, such as financial aid and counseling services. Several UC students, however, have expressed disappointment in response to the suggested hike.

ASUC Senator Anthony Carrasco, who identifies as a low-income first-generation student, said the UC system should spend money on providing more housing and food safety options to current students.

“It is not about the higher dimensions of classroom experiences,” Carrasco said. “Many of my constituents are able to do an outstanding amount in the classroom despite persevering through basic needs struggles (and) basic needs insecurity.”

He added that the UC campuses may see retention rates as well as enrollment rates drop from communities like the Latinx and Black communities. This viewpoint is shared by ASUC Senator Zaynab AbdulQadir, who noted that there are large amounts of students on campus who are currently struggling in the economic climate.

AbdulQuadir said the increase in tuition would likely prompt a hostile student response, referencing the 2014 protests against tuition hikes.  

UCOP spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said in an email that two-thirds of California undergraduates would have the tuition increase covered by grants and scholarships, and that 57 percent of California undergraduates have all their tuition and fees covered by financial aid. He did not, however, mention the impact of the potential tuition increase on out-of-state students or international students.

“After a six-year tuition freeze that has coincided with significant enrollment growth and limited state funding, it’s critical for the university to invest in improving the student experience on campus and maintaining UC’s academic excellence,” Vazquez said in the email.

Jason Constantouros, a fiscal and policy analyst at the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, said his office is still reviewing the press release but added that it is difficult to understand the numbers, as the latest UC budget report has yet to be released. He noted, however, that the LAO has proposed a new funding policy to the UC system numerous times, which would organize the increasing cost of education and call for specific percentages of that cost to be paid for by the state and by the students.

UC Student Association President Ralph Washington Jr. said the current UCSA board has been in conversation with the UC budget office regarding the possibility of tuition increase, and while he is uncertain about the ultimate outcome, he is optimistic.

“I think it’s imperative that students are participating directly in deciding how tuition dollars are spent,” Washington said. “If tuition is going to be increased, then students deserve the opportunity to dictate how that money is spent.”

Contact Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SakuCannestra.