Too Much Too Soon

A 25 percent increase in tuition in the fall for resident UC undergraduates would be disastrous for public education.

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Buried in a letter to the Joint Legislative Budget Conference Committee, UC President Mark Yudof's hint at further tuition increases probably slipped under the radar of most students-but the severity of the hikes should not go unnoticed.

Facing even more drastic and alarming cuts to higher education as a whole and the UC system in particular, Yudof painted a bleak picture of what the university may be forced to do should the state continue on its path of cutting at higher education; among the ideas Yudof proposed is a 20 to 25 percent increase in tuition beginning in the fall semester.

Unfortunately for UC's students, it's impossible to tell whether Yudof's letter is merely a tactic to convince the state legislature not to make its horrendous cuts or if there's more than just a kernel of seriousness in its suggestions.

While it's unclear whether the 20 to 25 percent increase would be in addition to the 9.3 percent tuition increase passed by the regents in their May meeting, the worst possible scenario would force the average UC resident undergraduate student to face an overall increase in tuition from $8,027 to nearly $10,900. Should students face almost $3,000 more per semester in order to receive a public education at UC, the system itself will become increasingly more privatized.

The possibility of eliminating the Cal Grant program, which offers tuituion assistance to nearly 53,000 students at UC campuses, does not help the situation. And that is clearly contrary to the entire idea of the public university.

Raising student fees so much so soon strikes us as shocking and concerning. Unfortunately for students, when the UC needs to find money quickly, the obvious answer is to raise tuition-other options like expediting the grant process or demanding more state funding are sadly bordering on impossibility.

It's ridiculous to think UC could turn into an institution where more money buys less education, but that's exactly where it's heading.

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