UC students turned a “forever” increase in tuition into a five-year increase

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Nothing lasts forever, not even the plan to increase tuition indefinitely.

On Thursday, the University of California changed its plan to increase tuition fees annually with no expiration date, and gave in to a change by a student member of the Board of Regents to instead keep tuition fees on the books for five years and then have the UC board of directors Vote to re-approve these increases in 2027.

Still, the regents by far backed the overall plan to increase tuition fees, voting 17-5 to begin increases in 2022-23, a move that will mean incoming California students raise tuition fees by about 540 US dollars will increase, but then this sticker will be kept for six years. Each additional incoming class of undergraduate students pays a higher amount based on inflation and a small surcharge in the first few years, but keep that rate for six years. The tuition fees are increased annually depending on inflation.

The concession to the students of UC Berkeley and the regent Alexis Atsilvsgi Zaragoza gives student groups time to defend themselves against the multi-year tuition fee increase and to work to ensure that more students are excluded from the system as a result of these increases. Zaragoza eventually opposed the tuition increase, as did the assembly spokesman, Anthony Rendon, a Long Beach Democrat who rarely appeared as a regent member.

For the regents, the financial needs of the university system outweighed student concerns about rising college costs, a remark that many speakers brought up throughout the nearly three-hour debate.

“I don’t give as much high-quality education as I used to, and that’s a fact, and I think almost all veteran faculties will basically tell you that,” said Robert Horwitz, a faculty representative with the regents and a UC San Diego professor for 39 years who asked the regents to approve the tuition increase so the system could raise more money to hire additional faculty. “The relationship between students and faculties has deteriorated.”

Students walk past the Physical Sciences Building on Science Hill at UC Santa Cruz to class in November 2019. (Dan Coyro – Santa Cruz Sentinel File)

The UC Office of the President has forecast cost increases of $ 2.1 billion over the next several years, with employee salaries and benefits making up the largest portion of that, along with student services to improve graduation rates.

No turning back

Zaragoza told CalMatters she doubts the regents will vote to abolish these ongoing tuition fees in five years “unless the whole thing explodes on their faces and it turns out to be a bad solution”.

More likely, the students will prove to the regents that the UC’s various study regulations need to be revised, she said. This is one way to review the statements made by UC President Michael Drake’s team claiming that low- and middle-income students will no longer have to pay under the curriculum increase plan as over a third of the tuition income will go back to the students in the Form of grant. The UC says 55% of California students don’t pay tuition fees because of state, state, and university grants.

One change students are looking for: to cut the time it takes UC campuses to review a student’s appeal, which allows them to bill state tuition fees, which allows them to get around $ 14,000 in lieu to pay $ 44,000 for overseas students. The effects are real, not theoretical.

Zaragoza described a friend who failed to convince UC Berkeley that he should be billed for tuition fees despite being homeless. Despite being a Chinese citizen, the student was estranged from his parents and lived in his car. However, since he does not have a permanent address, he cannot prove that he actually lives in California, said Zaragoza. An on campus legal aid group helped him owe the university the tens of thousands of dollars in tuition, but he had to drop out because he couldn’t afford the higher tuition fees. At a minimum, the UC should resolve residency applications in four weeks, not the 12 weeks they are currently allowed, Zaragoza said. The sooner students know that they are not entitled to state tuition, the sooner they can leave and go to another institution, one thinks.

The classroom unit building rises above the foliage along a path with no human presence at UC Santa Cruz. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel Sentinel)

Groups are calling for political relaxation

With that in mind, student groups also want the UC to relax its policy of allowing financially independent students to pay tuition fees and for US asylum seekers living in California to be eligible for tuition fees. Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a 2019 bill that would have allowed asylum seekers to receive government grants to cover their studies at UC and California State University, citing cost pressures. A legal analysis of the draft law showed that the running costs for the state are unknown, but “probably low”.

For Zaragoza, the goal is for student attorneys to document all cases where low-income UC students fall through the financial aid and expose them to even stronger tax shocks with rising tuition fees.

“I want us to start figuring out who has to pay the tuition, out of the people who the regents believe don’t have to pay tuition,” Zaragoza said.

Several other changes to the UC curriculum limited the sticker price that students face.

The board approved a lowering of the tuition fee ceiling from 6% to 5% in any given year. However, the board reserves the right to change its study regulations, including Refrain from increasing the tuition fees or increasing the tuition fees by a lower amount.

Schedule more help

The approved plan also provides more financial support for California students. The regents voted to divert 45% of the revenue from the tuition increase into financial support for students in the state. The previous plan was for a 40% shift, and the UC policy traditionally put about 33% aside. This change was controversial and passed 12 to 9 as some regents feared that the revenue prospects for the universities after months of careful planning are too high.

“It’s an open question” whether giving more money back to students to pay for college fees or for more faculty and academic services will have a greater impact on a student’s time at UC? said David Alocer, a senior finance officer for the president’s UC office.

Here is another potential fiscal headwind. Surprisingly, the UC’s curriculum didn’t take into account any little-known state law that says the governor’s finance director can withhold state support that the UC is supposed to receive if the system increases tuition fees. The amount withheld would equal the additional cost of the state’s Cal Grant program, which covers UC and Cal State tuition fees for approximately one-third of California’s students on these systems.

“That would be worrying,” Alocer told the regents.

But all of these changes and risks have not torpedoed the regents’ ultimate goal of increasing UC’s revenue through tuition fee increases.

The Regents Chair Cecilia Estolano said: “Excellence cannot be bought cheaply.”

Usually a hub of activity, a row of stools stands unused in the entrance hall of Engineering 2 on Science Hill at UC Santa Cruz. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel Sentinel)


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