UC Regents Votes to Raise Nonresident Tuition

Photo Courtesy of UCSB

Jacob Wong
National Beat Reporter

On Thursday, May 16, the UC Board of Regents voted to raise nonresident student tuition by 2.6 percent ($762) annually during their quarterly meeting at UC San Francisco. The move comes in response to a rising nonresident student population throughout the UC, coupled with rising system-wide costs.

The Regents confirmed the move in a 12-6 vote.

During the meeting, UC President Janet Napolitano emphasized that the Regents expected the tuition hike to account for expected shortfalls resulting from governor Gavin Newsom’s 2019-20 budget proposal.

“Without the [tuition] increase and given the lack of a substantial increase from the governor to the budget…we add another $30 million hole, and that will have an impact on the educational program we can provide our undergraduate students, be they from California or out of state,” said President Napolitano.

The tuition increase comes in light of a growing nonresident student population in the UC system. Since Fall 2010, the UC as a whole has seen its out-of-state population increase from 6.0 percent to 17.9 percent of the entire undergraduate student body. Of that 17.9 percent, 12.0 percent of the current undergraduate population is composed of international students.

While introducing the proposed increase, President Napolitano pointed out that the tuition hike would benefit nonresident UC students as well, as she pledged that the UC would set aside 10 percent of the new tuition revenues to boost financial aid resources for nonresident undergraduate students.

UC Office of the President had added this caveat since it originally proposed the tuition hike to the Regents during the Board’s March meeting.

According to President Napolitano, around 10 percent of nonresident students rely on student loans to cover their educational costs. “Setting aside 10 percent of the new tuition revenue would allow campuses to cover the increased costs for those students, for example, or to assist other needy students for whom the increase might pose an obstacle for enrollment into UC,” she stated.

President Napolitano also signaled a commitment to increased equity among the nonresident students the UC system did admit, stating that the UC should “work to avoid” only admitting wealthy nonresident students.

Following the President’s remarks on the proposed increase, UCOP Associate Vice President David Alcocer stressed in a presentation that the tuition increase would have minimal impact on applications or yield coming from nonresident students.

According to Alcocer, past increases had “little to no impact” on applications or yield coming from the UC’s nonresident student population. He pointed to nonresident students’ comparative lack of financial need as a possible reason for this; in addition to climbing nonresident graduation rates, the UC system has seen a decrease in average debt at graduation for nonresident students in past years, with current levels below the national average.

“Nonresident students do tend to have greater financial resources than California residents,” Alcocer added.

Alcocer also reiterated President Napolitano’s sentiments that the UC should strive for economic diversity among its nonresident student population, emphasizing the 10 percent allocation for nonresident financial aid.

UCOP also stressed that the increase would impact every UC campus to some extent. Out of the total $28.9 million in projected resources resulting from the tuition hike, UCOP projects that $2.7 million of those funds will go to UCSB.

Although the Board eventually voted to approve the tuition increase, several members in attendance at the meeting raised their concerns about the proposal. Regent-designate Hayley Weddle believed the 10 percent allocation would not be enough to tackle nonresident students’ housing and food insecurity needs, and pointed out that the proposal lacked any accommodation for undocumented students who did not qualify for an AB 540 tuition exemption.

Several other Regents echoed Weddle’s concerns, specifically the issues surrounding non-AB 540 undocumented students.

However, in the end the need for funds outweighed the proposal’s weaknesses. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block emphasized this sentiment in a statement during the meeting as the Regents mulled over their votes.

“Our costs keep going up and more revenue has to come from somewhere if we want to provide the same level of service,” said Chancellor Block. “These funds have been invested specifically to create more courses to speed graduation times. Of course [the 2.6 percent tuition increase] will be expensive for families, but it has impact on all of our students.”