Regents approve fourth year of tuition increases

    Under a $2.8 billion budget plan for 2005-06, the UC Board of Regents approved a fourth year of fee hikes, voting in favor of an 8-percent increase for undergraduate in-state tuition and a 10-percent increase for graduate students.

    With $457 in additional costs — bringing the tuition price over a full academic year to $6,145 — the university will charge undergraduate students almost 60 percent more than it did in 2001-02.

    Out-of-state students will see an increase of 5 percent next year.

    “We definitely have a budget problem if it includes raising fees, period,” UC Student Association President Jennifer Lilla said, addressing the regents. “We recognize that you did not come to this point by choice, but you do have the choice today to draw the line.”

    UC President Robert C. Dynes and Vice President for Budget Larry Hershman told the board that the increases were mandated by a compact the university signed with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and would continue to help the university offset nearly $500 million in state cuts in recent years.

    “This is not a budget that accomplishes everything we would like to, all at once,” Dynes said. “In this first year of the compact, we will largely be regaining our footing from the cuts of the last several years, not taking steps forward.”

    Since the 1970s, the university’s share of the state general fund has fallen from 7 percent to 3.5 percent.

    Only Student Regent Jodi L. Anderson voted against the proposal — which passed 13-1 — while Regent David S. Lee abstained.

    With the increases, total systemwide fees on UC campuses will still trail comparable public institutions by more than $1,000 for undergraduates and more than $2,000 for graduate students, the university estimated.

    Plan reduces aid funding

    In one of the most controversial parts of the proposal, the regents allocated only 25 percent of new fees toward aid for low-income students, down from the board’s standing one-third return-to-aid ratio.

    Under the governor’s compact, only 20 percent of last year’s increases went to pay for financial aid.

    Dynes and Hershman said the lower aid return would provide enough funds to offset higher fees for poor students and also allow the university to provide pay increases for the first time in several years.

    Faculty will see their salaries rise by 3 percent — still approximately 9 percent below the national average, Hershman said, while staff members will receive an increase of 2.5 percent, matching inflation.

    “Part of this is an equity issue,” Hershman said. “We’re trying to deal with salaries, we’re trying to deal with maintenance of buildings that we’re building, and we’re trying to deal with improving instructional program [and] accommodating enrollment. … We felt like we’d try to be fair to everybody in this and have a balanced approach.”

    Though the state budget may have tied the board’s hands on fees, Anderson said the regents simply should not raise the work and loan burden by reducing the amount of new fees going toward aid.

    “It is so critical that we stay committed to financial aid, and this is something we have the power to do,” Anderson said. “I hope when some individuals are really looking back at this period in UC history, that they really see that we did what we could to be committed to accessibility and affordability.”

    A combination of UC aid and state money in the form of Cal Grants will make up almost 50 percent of the fees collected by the university under the budget, Hershman said, which is enough to take “care of all students who are needy and are eligible for need-based aid.”

    Regent Norman J. Pattiz, however, said he remained skeptical that the extra $6 million needed to keep the return-to-aid ratio at 33 percent could not be added.

    “When we’re talking about a $250 million shortfall, I understand that’s a gargantuan task — a very big mountain to climb,” Pattiz said. “But there isn’t any place in the University of California system where we can’t find that $6 million dollars to solve this problem?”

    Professional fees to include IR/PS

    In addition to regular tuition, the regents also approved a 3-percent increase to the extra fees charged by the university’s professional schools, including UCSD’s schools of pharmacy and medicine.

    “I think what we’re doing on student fees in the professional school area is [going] from very low fees to being about average,” Hershman said.

    Though previously covered only by graduate tuition, the board also extended the $4,000 professional fees to master’s degree programs in public policy and Pacific international affairs. The increase will include UCSD’s Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.

    “We have always enjoyed a relatively inexpensive tuition for our students compared to other major schools of international affairs, and even after these increases, [the] costs are much lower than any of the other competing institutions,” IR/PS Dean Peter F. Cowhey said.

    The new fees, which will be instituted gradually for current students — who will pay $2,500 more next year — will fund services in the areas of career placement and specialized courses that “students want and need,” according to Cowhey.

    “As discussions over possible tuition increases have gone over the past year, we’ve kept our students informed of developments and we gave our current students a pledge that any fee increases would be graduated,” he said. “We will honor that promise.”

    The budget also asked the regents to delegate to Dynes the authority to raise professional fees by an additional 15 percent during the course of the year, though that provision was removed after several board members voiced concerns.

    Last year, Dynes received power to raise these fees by 10 percent.

    Students shed clothes in protest

    Student audience members at the meeting took off their shirts to suggest that fee hikes and financial aid cuts would take the shirts off their backs, as part of a protest against higher fees organized by the UCSA.

    “We, as students, have nothing left to give you but the shirts off our backs, because that’s all you leave us with,” A.S. Commissioner of Diversity Affairs Christopher Sweeten said to the regents, missing an exam to attend the Nov. 18 meeting at UCLA.

    In addition to Sweeten, A.S. President Jenn Pae and Vice President External Rigo Marquez spoke to the regents during public input, expressing their opposition to the budget plan.

    As a low-income student who depended on financial aid to reduce her debt, Pae said she urged the regents to reconsider raising fees and decreasing aid.

    “You stand here and say that this university has quality?” Sweeten said. “Quality is sitting right here but quality is about to leave, because quality can no longer afford to be here.”

    Sweeten told the regents that he was forced to work three jobs to pay for his education.

    “Watch right now as quality walks out of the door,” he said, as the board’s secretary told Sweeten that his input period had ended.

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