UC regents approve systemwide tuition hike for 2017-18 academic year

Ashley Vo/Staff

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SAN FRANCISCO — At its Thursday meeting, the UC Board of Regents preliminarily approved its first systemwide tuition increase since 2011 as a part of a new operating budget plan for the 2017-18 academic year.

Tuition will increase by $282, and the Student Services Fee will increase by $54 — for a total increase of $336. Undergraduate nonresident supplemental tuition will increase by $1,332. Additionally, the new budget plan includes enrollment-growth funding for an additional 2,500 California undergraduates and 900 graduate students.

The plan was presented to the regents by Nathan Brostrom, the university’s chief financial officer, and David Alcocer, interim associate vice president of the UC Department of Budget Analysis and Planning. According to Alcocer, student financial aid from the university’s financial aid program and from two state programs — the Cal Grant and the Middle Class Scholarship programs — is expected to exceed the tuition increases for approximately two-thirds of all California-resident undergraduates.

The 2017-18 budget plan is expected to garner $465.2 million in revenue increases to match the university’s expenditure needs. The $465.2 million will come from four sources: state general funds, systemwide tuition and fees, UC general funds and alternative revenue sources. The budget will receive the greatest total revenue, $142.6 million, from tuition and fees, and more than one-third of this amount, $49.3 million, will be returned to UC students in the form of financial aid.

The remaining net revenue from tuition and fees will be used in part by the university to improve academic quality on UC campuses and expand access to student mental health services.

“The budget plan, with the revenue considerations that are before us today … really demonstrate that we are prepared to meet the challenges of the institution in a way that is comprehensive and done collaboratively,” said Monica Lozano, regents chair, at the meeting.

Several regents expressed opposition to the tuition hikes during the meeting. Regent Eloy Oakley said he was concerned about the efficiency of using student tuition and fees to fund enrollment, noting the complexity involved with relying heavily on state financial aid to finance student needs. Student Regent Marcela Ramirez spoke on the behalf of the UC student population, stating that students throughout the UC system want to be more involved in the administration of the university. Ramirez encouraged her fellow regents to bring UC students into the conversation of attendance cost.

Regent John Pérez called the budget plan “rational” and “thoughtful” but said it did not sufficiently address the “real-life impacts” that a tuition increase would have on university students. California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said he opposed the decision to adjust student tuition to cover costs rather than soliciting the funding from the state.

“By doing the legislature and the governor’s work, by finding the revenue, we’ve let them off the hook,” Newsom said at the meeting.

Several UC students have also expressed discontent with the approval of the hike. UC Riverside junior Diana Jekki, who spoke out against the tuition increase during public comment, said she was frustrated by the lack of accessibility that students have to the regents. Additionally, Thursday morning before the regents meeting, campus UC Student Association members erected a “tent city” on Memorial Glade to raise awareness about housing insecurity among members of the campus student population.

“It’s very disheartening,” said Rachel Roberson, a campus graduate student and the external affairs organizing director for the UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly. “Students being able to focus in class isn’t as easy when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from.”

The regents will next meet March 15-16 at UCSF Mission Bay.

Harini Shyamsundar is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @hshyamsundar.