State Office Backs New Fee Hikes

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To make up for the state's estimated $16 billion shortfall, students at the University of California next year may face a 10 percent fee increase if university officials adopt recommendations from the state's Legislative Analyst's Office.

The office published its analysis of the 2008-2009 state budget last week with alternative options to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed cuts to General Fund programs.

Under the office's proposal, fees for resident undergraduates would rise 10 percent from this year's $6,636, while fees for resident graduate students would increase 10 percent from $7,440.

"It's unfortunate," said Steve Boilard, director for higher education for the office. "What we've tried to do as an office is we've gone through the entire state budget and tried to spread that pain throughout."

Overall, the state would provide $55.6 million less to the university than in the current year if the office's recommendations are used, Boilard said.

Patrick Lenz, vice president for budget for the UC Office of the President, said the analysis provides other options that could avoid the significant cuts proposed by the governor.

"From an overall standpoint, I think that the legislative analyst's approach for a more balanced budget to try to address the budget deficit certainly would be beneficial to higher education and particularly to UC," Lenz said.

Under the governor's proposed 10 percent budget cuts, $332 million would be cut from the university, although UC would still receive a simultaneous increase of $222.3 million as per a state-university compact, meaning it would see a net cut of around $110 million.

The governor's proposed budget also anticipates a 7.4 percent student fee increase for both undergraduate and graduate students.

UC Students Association President Louise Hendrickson said although she realizes that the state has financial woes, she worries that the university will become unaffordable, especially as some private universities such as Stanford University and Brown University intend to eliminate tuition for some students.

"It is a sad day when the private schools are providing better financial assistance than the public institutions and the UC," she said. "The university is simply becoming too expensive for students to be able to attend."

Fee increases must be reviewed and approved by the UC Board of Regents before they can take effect.

Lenz said he commends the analyst's office for finding alternatives to the governor's proposed cuts at the university, adding that the regents are considering an increase of between 7 and 10 percent.

Lenz said he does not believe the board would enact a 10 percent fee increase.

"I think the regents are going to have serious concerns about raising fees that high," he said.

The office also calls for increasing financial aid to UC students by $32.5 million, additional university funding for increased enrollment and reduced funding for administrative support, among other things.

In light of steady fee increases over the past several years, Hendrickson said she would like to see greater transparency within the university concerning revenues from fee increases.

"I really think that UC as a system should take the responsibility to look within itself to find where all our money is going ... and be more clear about why we have to constantly have student fees increase," she said.

Tags: FEES, UC BOARD OF REGENTS


Angelica Dongallo covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected]



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