UC regents approve upcoming year’s budget, discuss cohort tuition model

Sam Albillo/Staff

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The UC Board of Regents approved the 2020-21 budget and discussed the proposed cohort-based tuition model on the third and final day of the meeting at UCSF on Thursday.

UC Board of Regents Chair John Pérez paused the boards closed sessions to accommodate the 56 speakers that sought to address the regents during a later planned open session. Public comments dealt with a range of issues, the most prominent being growing concerns over tuition increases and the proposed cohort tuition model.

This model would attempt to keep base tuition, the Student Services Fee and nonresident supplemental tuition at flat rates throughout a student’s enrollment, but make necessary changes in tuition for incoming cohorts.

“I became financially independent, and although I receive aid, I still have to take out loans,” said campus junior Laurel Halvorson. “I can’t even imagine how burdening it may be for others.” 

Halvorson added that the tuition model would create further challenges to nonresident affordability and would widen the approximately $120,000 gap between a resident and nonresident student’s four-year cost of attendance. Another concern is a possible tuition increase regardless of increased state funding, Halvorson said.

Varsha Sarveshwar, president of the UC Student Association, or UCSA, and the ASUC external affairs vice president, also addressed the board, critiquing the cohort tuition model while also commenting on the budget proposal. Sarveshwar noted that the UCSA is “grateful” that the budget prioritizes requesting funds from the state and not increasing overall student costs.

“We understand and appreciate the need for predictability for students and their families, as well as the need to ensure that our education is well-funded,” Sarveshwar said at the meeting. “But we’re concerned about the impacts of annual tuition increases on the affordability for future generations of students.”

In addressing the budget, Sarveshwar proposed a line-item that outlines the ongoing support and provides resources for all 4,000 undocumented students in the UC system. According to Sarveshwar, undocumented student leaders are asking that the budget ensures that each campus has a “fully funded, fully staffed” undocumented resource center.

Sarveshwar also proposed the creation of a line-item in the $23 million allocation for Student Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships, or SAPEP, that works to prepare first-generation and socioeconomically disadvantaged California students for success in and after college.

“We’ve spent so much time in the last year and a half that I’ve been on the board on the need to recruit underrepresented students and diversity,” said UC Regent Richard Leib at the meeting. “In the 2000-2001 academic year, we spent $85.2 million on the Student Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships. Today, we spend $24.5 million … I don’t see how we can not go back and fix that hole.”

After student regent Hayley Weddle’s initial question for clarity on funding for undocumented student programs across the UC system, the board added several concerns for other marginalized populations including foster youth, formerly incarcerated youth and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients.

This led to the adoption of an amendment to the budget of the $23 million line-item for SAPEP and up to $20 million for the aforementioned community support services. Sarveshwar commented on the amendment, saying she’s “super stoked” about the regents’ adoption of student requests, which made the budget more “student-centric.”

“We approved an amendment that added up to $43 million for worthy programs … that are illustrative of the things that drive the university budget,” said UC President Janet Napolitano at the meeting. “At a certain point, we need to pay for all of this and our first choice is that the state pay for these increases and that’s what we’re going to fight for.”

Contact Devaki Dikshit, Clara Rodas and Maria Young at [email protected].