Facing Opposition from Students and Politicians, UC Regents Postpone Tuition Hike Vote to May

Students placed signs on the Silent Tree outside Geisel Library protesting the tuition hike. | Photo by Robert Ramji

After approving a tuition hike last January following a six-year freeze, the University of California Regents, the governing board of the UC system, have proposed another hike that would increase attendance costs by 2.7 percent, increasing tuition by $342 to bring it to an overall cost of $12,972 from its original $12,630. However, the governing board decided to postpone the vote until May in hopes that state legislature will allocate more money for the UC schools.

The UC Regents have proposed the hike in light of high enrollment rates and the need for the expansion of on-campus resources and amenities ranging from the creation of new courses to the addition of more mental health services. The Regents were hoping for a four percent funding increase from the 2018-2019 state budget, but because the increase was only three percent, they turned to a possible tuition hike to finish financing the expansions and amenities.

In addition to the California residents whose tuition will increase by 2.7 percent, out of state students will have to pay another $978 for an increase of 3.5 percent, making their cost of attendance $28,992.

Many have raised concerns regarding the hike and its effect on college students who are already struggling to pay current tuition. Students at UC San Diego placed two cardboard gravestones in front of Geisel Library stating “R.I.P. State Funding, University of California, A ‘Public’ Institution, 1868-divestment,” along with “here lies college affordability, privatization hurts us all.”

Gov. Jerry Brown weighed in on the matter as well, releasing a letter addressed to the UC Regents, calling their proposal “premature.”

“I encourage you to reject outright the current proposal to increase student tuition,” Brown stated. “The tuition increase is premature. Including the funding I have proposed in this year’s budget, state support for the UC system has grown by $1.2 billion since 2012. Economic expansions do not last forever, and the future is uncertain. More work is needed now to reduce the university’s costs to ensure that students and families have access to an affordable, quality, education.”

Lieutenant Governor and UC Regent Governor Gavin Newsom also shared his dissatisfaction with the proposed hike.

“The costs of attending public universities are unaffordable, putting degrees beyond the reach of middle-income families at a time when California needs more graduates to meet workforce needs,” Newsom said. “I share the frustration of students and families who don’t understand why another tuition increase is even up for consideration. For the [University of California] to vote on tuition fees before Sacramento begins budget discussions is strategically short-sighted and once again, gives Sacramento a good reason to avoid addressing the state’s chronic underfunding of public higher education.”

The UC Regents held their meeting at UC San Francisco, despite student requests to postpone the meeting and change the location to the UCLA campus, making the meeting more accessible to students who wanted to attend. However, during the meeting, it was unanimously decided that the vote on the tuition hike would be postponed until May to give the state the chance to increase UC funding, which some attribute to resistance from politicians and students.

The May meeting will take place on the 23rd and 24th at UC San Francisco.