There will be discussions on basic needs measures and updates to the cohort-based tuition policy at the upcoming UC Board of Regents meeting.
Because these two items are only up for discussion, there will be no votes or immediate impacts. The discussions will inform the Special Committee on Basic Needs’ culminating informative report and provide a temperature check on the regents’ reaction to the cohort-based tuition policy, according to Varsha Sarveshwar, UC Student Association president and ASUC external affairs vice president.
“You could very much imagine a meeting where regents are like ‘What is this?’ and just tear the whole thing apart, or you could have a meeting where they were really into it — and that could lead to meeting in January to adopt (the cohort-based tuition policy),” Sarveshwar said.
The cohort-based tuition policy would attempt to keep the base tuition, Student Services Fee and nonresident supplemental tuition at flat rates throughout a student’s enrollment at a UC campus. Necessary changes in tuition would only apply to incoming cohorts of new students.
While the cohort method would improve tuition predictability for students and families, it would likely result in tuition increases between cohorts that would surpass the usual increase based on inflation, placing additional strain on incoming cohorts, according to the meeting agenda.
“While the predictability offered by cohort based tuition may seem positive, it is critical to recognize that the model includes tuition increases between each cohort,” said student regent Hayley Weddle in an email. “Tuition increases under any model represent a threat to the affordability of the UC, and place additional burden on students to fund essential programs and services. Affordability issues caused by tuition increases would likely be especially detrimental for non-resident students.”
The tuition proposal will be presented to the regents again at their January meeting.
The regents will also discuss an information item for the Special Committee on Basic Needs that will address the intersection of basic needs and mental health. The information from this discussion item will be used in their final report on key information regarding basic needs, as well as inform any recommendations the special committee will make.
The regents will hear from UC Merced staff, who will present their basic needs initiative. This initiative focuses on the use of mental health resources within a basic needs context, according to Weddle. Funding for the resources comes from state funds and is overseen by each campus’s committee for basic needs.
The regents will discuss the allocation of the $18.5 million budget for basic needs, with $15 million reserved for food and housing insecurity. The other $3.5 million will go to rapid rehousing for UC students. UC Berkeley will receive over $1.8 million for basic needs for the 2019-20 academic year through the 2021-22 academic year.
“(These discussions are) really eye-opening for the regents because they obviously haven’t had to deal with these issues, so to hear about it is really important,” Sarveshwar said.