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UC Regents approve first tuition hike since 2011

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UC Berkeley, California – March 16. 2016 (Photo courtesy Shutterstock)

The University of California Board of Regents voted 16-4 today to raise student tuition for the first time in five years, university officials said.

Students who are not California residents received the most substantial increase, with undergraduates getting a hike from $38,976 to $40,644. Resident students’ tuition was raised as well, but less substantially — from $12,294 to $12,630, plus fees, according to UC President Janet Napolitano’s office.

Tuition has remained constant for the last few years, but skyrocketed in the midst of the Great Recession as the state government slashed the education budget. An 8 percent tuition hike was followed up with a 9.6 percent hike within about eight months in 2011.

The regents were poised to raise it again in 2012, but the passage of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 tax measure provided new state funding for education. Tuition has remained steady since then.

Brown announced earlier this month that the state is facing a $2 billion deficit, though the proposed state budget would increase the UC budget by $146.7 million, an increase of 1.8 percent.

Despite the increased support, state support for the university is still at a historically low point, far below the levels provided in 2000-01, when about two-thirds of the system’s per-pupil spending came from state funds.

Napolitano’s office argued that the tuition hikes won’t create a financial hardship for students receiving financial aid. A third of UC undergraduates receive funding from the state’s Cal Grant program, which fully covers in-state tuition, and the hikes on students with higher-income parents will help cover those costs.

The cost to middle class students will be deferred partly by the state’s Middle Class Scholarship program, which is expected to provide about $18 million to families earning up to $156,000 a year this school year. Those families also receive federal income tax deductions and credits that also reduce the cost of college, according to Napolitano’s office.

But another part of Brown’s budget is phasing out the Middle Class Scholarship program, so it will likely only continue to assist students who are already in the program. And it remains unclear how education and tax policy will change under newly inaugurated President Donald Trump.

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