Students walk to and from class at UC Berkeley. (Photo courtesy Shutterstock)

Students walk to and from class at UC Berkeley. (Photo courtesy Shutterstock)

UC Regents to vote on first tuition hike in 5 years

The University of California Board of Regents will vote on the first tuition hikes for the system in five years at its meeting in San Francisco on Thursday, hikes that would bring tuition for some students to over $40,000 per year.

The most substantial increase would be for students who live outside of California. Undergraduates would see their tuition rise from $38,976 to $40,644. Resident students’ tuition would rise too, but less substantially — from $12,294 to $12,630 plus fees, according to a memo to the regents from UC President Janet Napolitano’s office.

While tuition has remained constant for the last few years, it had skyrocketed in the midst of the Great Recession as the state government slashed its 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.

But financial trouble has returned to California as Brown announced earlier this month that the state is facing a $2 billion deficit.

While the proposed state budget would increase the UC budget by $146.7 million, an increase of 1.8 percent, 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.

Members of the union Teamsters Local 2010, which has been engaged in contentious labor negotiations with the university, demonstrated outside the conference center at the UCSF Mission Bay campus in San Francisco on the first day of the regents’ two-day meeting.

The approximately 50 workers briefly shut down the meeting, speaking out about their own fight with the university as well as against tuition hikes, Local 2010 spokesperson Christian Castro said.

“We’re opposed to it because we believe the UC is a public institution and it needs to invest in the public and the residents of California,” Castro said.

The union is arguing that the state needs to find a way to restore the historical funding that has been cut from California public universities rather than put more and more of the burden on students, Castro said.

According to Napolitano’s office, 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 provides 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.educationUC CaliforniaUniversity of California

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