On Jan. 24, the University of California Board of Regents plans to hike students’ tuition by $348 for the 2018–19 academic year. Here are seven reasons why Rise California and the UC Students Association are teaming up to stop the tuition increase.
- For more than 100 years, the University of California was tuition-free. Since the 1970s, state legislators have caused the cost of college to skyrocket by cutting funding for public higher education. But why do we deserve anything less than the system of tuition-free public universities that lifted up past generations of Californians? In 1960, “A Master Plan for Higher Education in California” declared “the long established principle that state colleges and the University of California shall be tuition free to all residents of the state.” That master plan was constructed during the administration of former California governor Pat Brown — yes, Jerry’s dad.
- Legislative leaders oppose the tuition increase. Rise California and the ASUC Office of External Affairs met with several legislative offices Monday, delivering the names and testimonies of more than two thousand students that have signed on to oppose the tuition increase. State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León told us in no uncertain terms that he was against the tuition increase, and State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s office informed us that they had hoped to see the vote delayed to March and that Rendon would have voted against the tuition increase if he was able to attend this week’s meeting.
- It’s wrong to hurt students for administrators’ mistakes. Yes, the UC’s leadership has made a lot of mistakes. Yes, they could spend their budget more wisely. But the ongoing fight between Gov. Jerry Brown and the UC over administrative lapses and state funding is hurting students more than anyone else.
- UC Regents have raised tuition by more than 300 percent in the last 15 years. Seriously, when will it stop? In 2002, UC in-state undergraduate tuition was $3,734. Today, it’s $12,294. Similarly, CSU in-state undergraduate tuition was $1,572 in 2002, and is $5,472 today. This isn’t inflation — it’s budgetary negligence. Meanwhile, the UC is already rejecting thousands of hardworking and talented students. “Resident applicants to UC increased by 66,000, or 57 percent, between 2005 and 2015. But admission rates of California residents declined from 86 percent to 59 percent during that decade.” How can we expect more students to succeed at UC schools if we raise tuition even higher?
- Tuition hikes disproportionately hurt students of color. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains, hiking tuition makes it less likely that students of color will enroll in four-year public colleges. “All else equal, a $1,000 tuition increase for full-time undergraduate students is associated with a drop in campus diversity of almost 6 percent,” New York University researchers found in a 2015 study. Raising tuition by only a few hundred dollars may not seem like much, but they did it last year too. And they’ll do it again. Over the years, that’s added up.
- It doesn’t make sense to commit to a tuition-hike before the budget is set. Last week, Jerry Brown introduced his prospective budget for next year, and he delivered less than the UC anticipated. But the legislature has yet to weigh in. Instead of committing to a tuition hike before that process takes place, let’s leverage our collective power to fight for more funding, so that we can avert another tuition hike.
- The UC Regents should be stronger advocates for students. No one becomes a UC Regent because they want to hurt students. But under their watch, California’s state legislature cut state funding per UC student by more than 50 percent. California’s students and families deserve better. The first step towards restoring funding for the university is rejecting this tuition hike and joining our fight in the legislature to #FundtheUC.
Maxwell Lubin is a student at the Goldman School of Public Policy and founder of Rise California. Varsha Sarveshwar is the ASUC Fund The UC Campaign Manager. Rigel Robinson is the ASUC External Affairs Vice President and the UCSA University Affairs Chair.