The UC Board of Regents met last Wednesday to propose and vote on an increase in UC tuition; however, in a surprising turn of events, the Board decided to postpone the vote until May due to an overwhelming amount of student opposition. The proposed tuition hike is projected to be $342 dollars for resident students and $978 dollars for out-of-state students.
The meeting began with an open public forum, and 28 UC students were allotted a minute each to voice their concerns about the tuition hike. There were UC students from all campuses and backgrounds, but all had a singular concern for their wellbeing in the face of a tuition hike.
Nuha Khalfay, a senator with Associated Students of UC Berkeley recalled, “I have friends that are taking loans, their parents are taking out loans and working to pay the rent and expected to do well and be involved. A $978 increase, that is 2.5 percent out of state, is a month of rent. That is 10 textbooks, that is more than a hundred meals.”
For most UC students, an increase in tuition means more pressure placed on rent, textbooks, and food on top of an expectation of academic excellence and an involvement in extracurricular activities. Resident students are expected to pay around $13,900 for tuition, $1,200 for textbooks, $2,300 for health insurance, and around $14,000 for room and board. Out-of-state students are expected to pay $40,644 for tuition, and the same amount as resident students for textbooks, health insurance, and room and board. These statistics does not include food costs, because an individual’s consumption varies; the USDA estimates groceries expenses for college students to be at $200 a month, or $2,400 a year.
Some students have expressed struggles with the inability to stay on top of their schoolwork when also working, and an increase in tuition could mean working part-time jobs and taking out loans.
“Students with jobs miss class to work and the money goes into paying the University to take that very class that they are missing. There is a point where increasing the tuition to further education is hindering education,” Calvin Nguyen, a first year undergraduate at UC Berkeley who is the first in his family to attend a university, told the Board of Regents at public forum.
Moreover, many students began the forum by stating that the vote on tuition hike was premature due to the fact that the state budget for UC schools haven’t been finalized.
“For UC to commit to a tuition before the budget is set makes no sense. It is public policy malpractice.” said Max Lubin, a student at UC Berkeley and founder of Rise California.
In addition, an increase in tuition would also adversely affect undocumented students. According to George Mitchell, a representative of the Undocumented Student Coalition, “70 percent of the undocumented students at Berkeley face food insecurity.”
In fact, “undocumented students don’t qualify for federal grants and loans,” according an article from Inside Higher Ed. As a result, undocumented students must find other ways to come up with the funds necessary to pay for tuition.
Many UC students present at the meeting also mentioned the issue of food insecurity. The California Alumni Association at Berkeley reports that some students found themselves unable to afford groceries even when they take out loans, work a part-time job, and have their tuition covered by financial aid.
The UC students did not only described their hardships, however, they also proposed a collaboration with the UC Regents in order to work towards a budget solution.
“We want to fight with you,” students repeatedly told the regents.
At the conclusion of the first public forum, Regent John Perez suggested a re-examination of the financial aid system before the vote was decided. He is known to be a staunch opponent of increasing tuition. According to the LA Times, Perez was among the four Regents who opposed the 2.7 percent increase of tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year.
President Janet Napolitano called for the procurement of funding from the state, citing the the UC’s need to maintain a “working relationship with the state leaders.” She also gave her condolences to the victims of the Montecito mudslides and Thomas Fire, commending Chancellor Henry Yang and UCSB for their efforts in helping those in need.
The Board of Regents will convene for the tuition hike vote in May at UC San Francisco.