Regents Raise Student Fees by 9.3 Percent

    At UC Berkeley, union workers marched across campus vocalizing their disapproval of the shortened input session.

    ‘I’ve never felt so silenced and marginalized as I do right now,’ Associated Students Vice President of External Affairs Lisa Chen said to the regents in the last few minutes of the public input session. ‘How are we supposed to express public input when students are being silenced and cut off?’

    The bulk of the comment period was dominated by concerns over the fee increases, which students said would undermine the university’s longstanding commitment to accessibility and affordability, forcing qualified students to find alternatives for higher education.

    UC President Mark G. Yudof responded to the comments by stating that the increases were necessary in the wake of a $450 million shortfall in state funding to the university. Yudof also predicted furloughs and layoffs in the coming few weeks.

    ‘[The regents] listen to the comments and many of them are really compelling,’ he said. ‘We submitted a budget with zero fee increases [to the state] ‘mdash; that was the decision of the board and that didn’t last 24 hours. We live in a highly imperfect world and we’re going to be talking about furloughs and layoffs. The state is not supporting us in the fashion I think would be fair, but we are not quite in a high-fee/high-aid model. I think you are exaggerating the impact.’

    The approved fee increase amounts to an additional $662 per student every year, bringing the total cost of tuition to an estimated $7,788 for California residents. The $20,021 tuition for out-of-state students will be increased by about $2,000.

    Lt. Gov. and Regent John Garamendi was among the four regents who voted against the fee increases.

    ‘The UC students have taken an incredible hit over the last five to six years,’ Garamendi said. ‘Fees have literally doubled and nobody’s taxes in the state of California have doubled over that same period of the time. What’s happening here is the state Legislature and governor are relying on a tax increase on students. There’s no other way to call this but a tax increase on students. In addition to that, it is a terrible public policy ‘mdash; attacking students is just really stupid.’

    Yudof defended the fee increase, stating that only 19 percent of UC students would pay the full amount of the increase because of support from the new Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan for families with incomes under $60,000, a Cal Grants increase of $39 million, a Pell Grant maximum extended to $5,350 from $4731 for qualified low-income students and President Barack Obama’s new federal stimulus package, which provides aid for families with joint incomes of under $180,000.

    ‘If you have to raise tuition, this was the year to do it,’ Yudof said. ‘The stars were aligned and the impact on our students this year is much less.’

    Regent Eddie Island, who also voted against the fee increase, criticized the university’s passive nature against a state Legislature that has come to rely on the UC system’s ability to raise fees without a second thought. He cited the regents’ decision to increase fees six times in the past seven years.

    ‘I’m witnessing the death of a great institution,’ Island said. ‘We have yet to deal with this in an open and honest way. Every time there’s a budget shortfall, the student-fee increase is on the table. We have no choice but to raise fees and we sit around, wring our hands and worry about it. I don’t think the response ought to be just increase fees and nothing more and hope next year will be better. We look at this every year as unique, but it’s not unique. Are we giving up on affordability and accessibility?’

    In an interview on Southern California Public Radio on Friday, Yudof agreed that a ‘more invigorated federal role’ is needed in the UC system.

    ‘Our financial model is broken and we are bobbing and weaving to keep this place going ‘mdash; $8,700 is too much, but it’s not the end of the world, and we have the stimulus package,’ Yudof said. ‘What Regent Island is saying, and I agree with him, is when you’re in the access and opportunity business, you’re not supposed to cut enrollment and raise prices, and long-term, that has been the trajectory this state has been on for more than 20 years. Regent Island is entirely right, we just have to do a better job at Sacramento of explaining to people why the University of California is important to the economy of the state.’

    Garamendi offered a grim take on California’s economic future, should the state continue to cut funding for public higher education.

    ‘We are not educating a sufficient number of people to allow the economy in grow, so what do we do?’ Garamendi said. ‘In a fit of brilliance, the governor and Legislature refuse to raise taxes to fund the fundamental economic machine that’s the education system, and so we starve it. The result is a slow starvation of the schools and of the economy. I will argue that you will see a decline in the economy, because there will be thousands upon thousands at the state university and UC that will not go to those universities because of the increasing cost for students.’

    Readers can contact Joyce Yeh at [email protected].

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    The UC Board of Regents approved a 9.3 percent fee increase for the 2009-10 academic year over the phone last Thursday, amid widespread criticism from students and staff that the regents had failed to exercise transparency by severely limiting the meeting’s public input period.

    Originally slated as a three-day meeting at UCSD beginning May 6, the meeting was rescheduled as a one-day phone conference to avoid distracting campus efforts toward fighting the H1N1 virus. The public-input session was shortened from the original 20 to 60 minutes per day for three days to one 20-minute session to be shared by all 10 UC campuses, with each comment limited to one minute.

    The new time slot was not sufficient for all the planned comments, sparking protest at several UC campuses.

    At UCSD, students attending the public-input session in the Price Center East Ballroom began chanting ‘Let the students speak’ at the end of the 20-minute input period. In response, the regents extended the session by five minutes.

    At UC Berkeley, union workers marched across campus vocalizing their disapproval of the shortened input session.

    ‘I’ve never felt so silenced and marginalized as I do right now,’ Associated Students Vice President of External Affairs Lisa Chen said to the regents in the last few minutes of the public input session. ‘How are we supposed to express public input when students are being silenced and cut off?’

    The bulk of the comment period was dominated by concerns over the fee increases, which students
    said would undermine the university’s longstanding commitment to accessibility and affordability, forcing qualified students to find alternatives for higher education.

    UC President Mark G. Yudof responded to the comments by stating that the increases were necessary in the wake of a $450 million shortfall in state funding to the university. Yudof also predicted furloughs and layoffs in the coming few weeks.

    ‘[The regents] listen to the comments and many of them are really compelling,’ he said. ‘We submitted a budget with zero fee increases [to the state] ‘mdash; that was the decision of the board and that didn’t last 24 hours. We live in a highly imperfect world and we’re going to be talking about furloughs and layoffs. The state is not supporting us in the fashion I think would be fair, but we are not quite in a high-fee/high-aid model. I think you are exaggerating the impact.’

    The approved fee increase amounts to an additional $662 per student every year, bringing the total cost of tuition to an estimated $7,788 for California residents. The $20,021 tuition for out-of-state students will be increased by about $2,000.

    Lt. Gov. and Regent John Garamendi was among the four regents who voted against the fee increases.

    ‘The UC students have taken an incredible hit over the last five to six years,’ Garamendi said. ‘Fees have literally doubled and nobody’s taxes in the state of California have doubled over that same period of the time. What’s happening here is the state Legislature and governor are relying on a tax increase on students. There’s no other way to call this but a tax increase on students. In addition to that, it is a terrible public policy ‘mdash; attacking students is just really stupid.’

    Yudof defended the fee increase, stating that only 19 percent of UC students would pay the full amount of the increase because of support from the new Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan for families with incomes under $60,000, a Cal Grants increase of $39 million, a Pell Grant maximum extended to $5,350 from $4731 for qualified low-income students and President Barack Obama’s new federal stimulus package, which provides aid for families with joint incomes of under $180,000.

    ‘If you have to raise tuition, this was the year to do it,’ Yudof said. ‘The stars were aligned and the impact on our students this year is much less.’

    Regent Eddie Island, who also voted against the fee increase, criticized the university’s passive nature against a state Legislature that has come to rely on the UC system’s ability to raise fees without a second thought. He cited the regents’ decision to increase fees six times in the past seven years.

    ‘I’m witnessing the death of a great institution,’ Island said. ‘We have yet to deal with this in an open and honest way. Every time there’s a budget shortfall, the student-fee increase is on the table. We have no choice but to raise fees and we sit around, wring our hands and worry about it. I don’t think the response ought to be just increase fees and nothing more and hope next year will be better. We look at this every year as unique, but it’s not unique. Are we giving up on affordability and accessibility?’

    In an interview on Southern California Public Radio on Friday, Yudof agreed that a ‘more invigorated federal role’ is needed in the UC system.

    ‘Our financial model is broken and we are bobbing and weaving to keep this place going ‘mdash; $8,700 is too much, but it’s not the end of the world, and we have the stimulus package,’ Yudof said. ‘What Regent Island is saying, and I agree with him, is when you’re in the access and opportunity business, you’re not supposed to cut enrollment and raise prices, and long-term, that has been the trajectory this state has been on for more than 20 years. Regent Island is entirely right, we just have to do a better job at Sacramento of explaining to people why the University of California is important to the economy of the state.’

    Garamendi offered a grim take on California’s economic future, should the state continue to cut funding for public higher education.

    ‘We are not educating a sufficient number of people to allow the economy in grow, so what do we do?’ Garamendi said. ‘In a fit of brilliance, the governor and Legislature refuse to raise taxes to fund the fundamental economic machine that’s the education system, and so we starve it. The result is a slow starvation of the schools and of the economy. I will argue that you will see a decline in the economy, because there will be thousands upon thousands at the state university and UC that will not go to those universities because of the increasing cost for students.’

    Readers can contact Joyce Yeh at [email protected].

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