A University of California proposal to raise tuition was set in motion on Wednesday after a key vote of the university’s regents committee, despite heavy opposition from students and from California Gov. Jerry Brown. The proposed hike would cause tuition to increase by 5 percent annually for the next five years.
Tuition would increase from the current $12,200 annually to $15,500 for California residents, while out-of-state students could pay as much as $44,000 annually by the 2019-20 academic year. University of California President Janet Napolitano says that if state funding does not increase, the university’s three-year tuition freeze will have to come to an end. Brown says the proposal would break a budget deal between the state and the University of California, which promised increased state funding in exchange for a tuition freeze. According to Napolitano, the annual 5 percent increase in state funding in the past two years has not been enough.
Brown accused the university of ignoring alternative solutions to reduce spending by improving student access through online courses, consolidating programs across campuses and offering work-experience credits. The governor also suggested the creation of a committee to implement cost-effective solutions to the school’s budget requirements.
Napolitano said that massive cuts have already been made in many sectors of the university and, while the school will continue to cut costs wherever applicable, the “plain fact” is that the university must consider tuition hikes an option if state funding does not increase. Napolitano says the tuition increase—estimated at roughly $1 million annually— will allow the university to hire more faculty members, help to cover both rising salaries and pensions, and increase the number of undergraduates.
On Thursday, a vote will be held on the tuition hike, which would affect the University of California’s 10 campuses. According to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom,(an opponent of the tuition increase), a decision in favor of the tuition has already been made, adding that it was “demoralizing” for a state official such as himself to feel that he has “no influence over the outcome.” Currently, fewer than half of University of California students pay tuition, thanks to financial aid, reports The Sacramento Bee.
Between the 2008-09 and 2013-14 academic years, the average fees and tuition of public universities and colleges increased 27 percent beyond the rate of inflation, according to the College Board. Among students who graduated from four-year colleges in 2012, seven out of 10 were left in debt, which is about $30,000 on average per student in the U.S., according to the Institute for College Access and Success. One-fifth of school loans taken out in 2012 were expensive private loans with fewer safeguards than federal loans, and debt increased about 6 percent annually for both federal and private loans between 2008-12.
The benefits of a college education, however, are becoming increasingly clear. In 2012, unemployment among young college graduates was at 7.7 percent, while 17.9 percent of young high school graduates without college were unemployed. According to Pew Research, U.S. college graduates age 25-32 earned $17,500 more in 2012 than high school diploma-holders of the same age who did not attend a university.
By Sree Aatmaa Khalsa