Board of Regents Votes to Increase Tuition

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Chelsea Viola
National Beat Reporter

After debate and deliberation, the UC Regents voted to approve the 2.5 percent tuition increase on Jan. 26, ending the six-year long tuition freeze.

Starting with the 2017-2018 school year, California resident undergraduate tuition will increase by $282, rising to $11,502 annually. Students also face a $54 increase in student service fees for expanding mental health services, bringing total student service fees to $1,128.

Nonresident undergraduates face the same rise in base tuition and student fees, along with a $1,332 rise in supplemental tuition, from $26,682 to $28,014 next year.

“The funds from both adjustments will directly benefit UC students,” UC President Janet Napolitano said. “More investment is needed to make sure that this generation and future generations of UC students receive the same quality of education as past generations.”

Students from across the UC system travelled to San Francisco to share their dislike of the tuition hike.

“Every single raise in tuition is deepening the dependency on taxing students to support the UC, which should be the last resort to fund this institution,” said Alex Lee, the student body president of UC Davis. “We are facing a crisis of affordability.”

One UC Berkeley student shared her frustration over how the student voice has not been heard.

“I am urging you that you make yourselves more available and actually listen to us,” she said, referencing the last board meeting when students across the UC system traveled to protest voting on the tuition increase.

“Run the university like [us students] are the agenda, because it doesn’t feel that way,” she said.  

The motion to increase tuition passed by a 16-4 vote. The dissenters were Regent John A. Pérez, Student Regent Marcela Ramirez and two ex-officio regents, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

“Every single one of us in this room doesn’t want to raise tuition for our students,” said Regent Charlene Zettel, who voted yes on the increase. “It’s very painful for all of us.”

“California students who currently receive financial aid will not pay the increases,” said Napolitano on Wednesday to the board. Approximately two-thirds of UC students, 175,000 of them, receive financial aid. “Indeed, the financial aid awards for most of these students will rise by more than the amount of the increases, providing additional aid for expenses such as student housing, food and books.”

According to UC officials, a third of the additional revenue generated from the tuition increase will be allotted for student financial aid. The remaining two-thirds will go towards hiring more faculty, reinforcing teaching assistance for graduate students, and overall student counseling.

“In 2009, when I was an undergraduate at UC Santa Barbara sitting in that audience, this very board supported a 32 percent tuition increase,” said Student Regent-elect Paul Monge-Rodriguez. “While the current proposal for us is certainly more reasonable than a 32 percent tuition increase, I believe that with each additional increase this board approves we are getting further and further from the core mission that that this university was founded to advocate for.”

The UC Berkeley law student ended his comment in an invitation for students to collaborate with the Regents moving forward.

“Let us join in compelling state leaders and making sure we are doing everything by our power to reinvest in this institution and in our students, because they deserve it,” Monge-Rodriguez said.

Chelsea Viola is a second year Political Science & History of Public Policy double major, and is the 2016-2017 National Beat reporter for The Bottom Line. She is proudly from the Bay Area (Go Warriors!). In her spare time, Chelsea enjoys admiring dogs from a far, watching tv shows that induce existential crises (like Twilight Zone & Black Mirror and all of Food Network), and attending concerts.