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UC increases undergraduate tuition fees for financial aid, stability

The University of California will increase tuition fees from fall 2022 after the board of trustees approved the increase on Thursday amid protracted debate and widespread student protests.

The 4.2% increase in tuition fees – $ 534 added to the current annual level of $ 12,570 – will only apply to new undergraduates next year and will remain unchanged for up to six years for them. Successive undergraduate classes would get a similar deal – an inflation-linked increase in their coming year, with tuition fees frozen for six years.

The undergraduate tuition increase includes an additional 2% for the incoming class next year, decreasing for subsequent classes until it is phased out by 2026. graduate students would be adjusted annually for the rate of inflation.

The plan aims to bring financial predictability to families, help struggling campuses maintain educational standards, and make UC education more affordable for many low-income students by generating more income for aid. financial, said UC President Michael V. Drake. He oversaw a similar tuition plan at Ohio State University before taking the reins at UC last year and said he had increased financial aid, reduced student debt levels and increased the diversity of students.

The regents’ action marked UC’s second tuition hike since 2011 and came after two years of discussions. It was slated for a vote last July, but was put on hold with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drake told Regents on Thursday that financial pressure on campuses over the past few years had taken a toll on students – more crowded classrooms and dormitories, less interaction with faculty, and more difficulty accessing the courses needed to graduate.

“It is not sustainable, and it is not acceptable,” he said. “This plan offers a much more stable and secure path forward for students and for the university.”

Opponents of the plan, however, have strongly questioned the increase in tuition fees amid a pandemic that has rocked the financial stability of so many families and after Governor Gavin Newsom and the legislature provided the university system $ 1.27 billion, the largest state injection ever in a single year. financing, for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

The student association of UC. and several other campus organizations lobbied against the increase, using a #stoptheforeverhike social media campaign. They argued that the plan would hurt students who fall through the cracks – LGBTQ students whose parents refuse to pay tuition fees, immigrants here without legal permission who are not eligible for tuition in the ‘State and low-income non-resident students affected by fluctuating exchange rates. and limited access to financial assistance.

Students who spoke out against the tuition plan during the public comment period on Thursday also said it would increase the financial burden on those already struggling to personally pay the $ 10,000 UC expects of them. to contribute to their education and reduce racial and economic diversity.

“Even though the university admits its most diverse class ever, it makes itself less accessible by balancing its budget on the backs of those who can least afford it,” said Rafael Jaime, president of the local. 2865 of the UAW, which represents 19,000 university students. .

They conquered Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, an ex officio regent. “The cost of public higher education is too high and increasing tuition fees is NOT the answer,” she tweeted last week. “I am against the students against the proposed tuition fee increases.”

But several regents who expressed skepticism when the issue was discussed in May voted for the plan after UC officials amended it to address their concerns. Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley, for example, had worried that tying the increase in tuition fees to the rate of inflation could lead to further high charges if consumer prices soar. But the final plan will calculate inflation based on a three-year moving average of the California Consumer Price Index and cap any increase at 5%.

Regents retain the option to revise student fees for any reason at their discretion and will be required to re-authorize the plan in five years under an amendment by Student Regent Alexis Atsilvsgi Zaragoza, who voted against the increase. with Kounalakis, Regent Laphonza Butler and ex-offici regents, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and State Superintendent. of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

Board chair Cecilia Estolano also moved from what she called her initial ‘super skeptical’ position to support, noting that more financial aid income generated by the plan could help reduce the burden of student debt. She also said the tuition fee plan amounted to a progressive tax, which would be a fair way to raise funds for faculty, staff, mental health counselors and other extra supports students need.

“You can’t buy excellence on the cheap,” she said Thursday.

More than half of UC’s undergraduates would not be affected by the increase, as their tuition and fees are covered by financial aid. UC officials said more than 106,000 California undergraduates would receive more grants under the plan, giving them additional funding for housing, food, books and other non-school expenses. tuition fees. That’s because 45% of new tuition income would go to California student financial aid.

Over the past two decades, UC officials said, the system’s core funds have increased 9% while enrollments have increased 71%, resulting in a 36% drop in funding per student.

This financial crisis prompted the majority of campus chancellors to demand a tuition hike last year as they cut budgets, dipped into reserves, borrowed funds and drastically halted hiring to deal with what ‘they called it one of the worst financial crises they have ever faced collectively fueled by the pandemic.

UC Berkeley, for example, is particularly dependent on tuition fees, as it does not have a medical center to generate additional income. The campus has been hit by two successive budget holes totaling $ 150 million in 2016 and then $ 340 million last year after the pandemic resulted in crushing losses and higher costs.

At UCLA, student-faculty ratios fell from 25: 1 in 2003-04 to 29: 1 in 2019-20. And UC Riverside, like other campuses, has had to contend with inadequate student services and very poor facilities: falling ceiling tiles, leaky roofs, dilapidated air systems and failure of laboratory equipment.

The income from tuition fees, UC officials said, will help pay for necessary repairs and maintenance, reduce class sizes, boost student education, improve student services and provide more support to improve graduation rates and reduce achievement gaps.





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