Huiwen Jia and Noe Padilla
Contributing Writer and News Editor
At the Jan. 21-23 University of California (UC) Regents Board meeting, the topic of a tuition hike was a major point of discussion. The Regents were originally going to vote on one of two proposed plans regarding the increase of tuition, but the vote was postponed for a later date which has not been announced after receiving backlash from students and state officials.
According to the discussion item for the meeting, there were two proposed plans which addressed the tuition increase. The first plan was a flat increase of $348 in tuition and fees for UC undergraduates, which would raise overall tuition to $12,918 for the 2020-2021 academic year. The UC Regents planned to use this additional funding for multiple perspectives. Besides the improvement on student education, such as reducing the grades gap among students, improving the graduation rate, and enlarging the incoming class, they also suggest increasing investments on mental health and staff welfare.
The second plan would consist of a “cohort” style of increase. This means that beginning with the incoming class of 2020-2021, tuition will increase by a set amount of $140 each year for the next six years. Any student enrolled in a UC school before 2020 would not be subject to this increase.
The proposal raised the idea that since the funding provided by the state was lower than expected ($217.7 million rather than the expected $240 million), tuition hikes could increase financial aid options for students, reduce overall net costs, and finance students’ education.
In the proposal, the Regents are seeking a multi-year plan for three systemwide student charges: tuition, the Student Services Fee (SSF), and Nonresident Supplemental Tuition (NRST). Despite the benefits that would accompany financial support given to students, the additional funding by the tuition hike is also planned to be used in the University’s long-term operational development.
California governor Gavin Newsom also challenged the tuition hike. In an article published by the Los Angeles Times, Newsom expressed that it was “unwarranted, [and] inconsistent without college affordability goals.” The UC Student Association created a petition which also opposed the tuition increase — instead hoping to negotiate with the state for more funding — and approved the decision of postponement of the vote.
According to a Daily Bruin article, UC spokesperson Claire Doan explained that the UC Regents delayed the vote to give students the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns about the issue. Other sources like the Los Angeles Times, report that the vote was postponed due to a failure of meeting the 10-day public notice requirement if the Regents intend to make a systemwide change to the tuition and fees.
UC Regents Board Chairman, John A. Pérez, has expressed that the tuition hikes are based on the school’s needs. One of the recent votes pointed to UC’s other requirements like staff. However, Perez also questioned the rationality of these recent votes.
According to Assembly Bill 970, the Regents are required to provide the public with justification of fee increase and assess its potential impacts to students 10 days before voting is set to occur. Yet, as mentioned in an article published by the Los Angeles Times, the interval between proposal announcements and voting cannot be persuasive to the general public.
Pérez opposed the broad-based tuition hike for all undergraduate students, but he mentioned the increasing costs on incoming classes is considerable. Once this plan executes, the fee would remain flat for six years. He referred to the raised academic performance in UC Santa Barbara, which guaranteed financial aid for low-income students to reduce their financial stress.