UC President Yudof Proposes 8 Percent Fee Increase

Only 45 Percent of UC Students Would See Fee Increase in First Year if Regents Approve Plan

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Proposed University Fee Increase

Higher Education Lead Reporter Javier Panzar and University News Editor Mihir Zaveri speak about a proposed 8 percent university fee increase.

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After weeks of rumors and speculation, UC President Mark Yudof announced a budget plan Monday that includes an 8 percent hike in student fees for the next academic year, though only 45 percent of students will have to pay these higher fees for the first year thanks to a one-time expansion of the university's financial aid program.

If approved by the UC Board of Regents, Yudof's proposal would raise the UC system's educational fee by $828 to $11,124 - more than twice what the fee was in 2003 - as well as the student services fee by $72 to a total of $972.

Along with the increases, Yudof has proposed an extension of the university's financial aid plan so students from families making less than $80,000 will have all fees paid for them by the UC, while students from families making under $120,000 will be shielded from the increase for the first year.

Yudof said those two provisions mean that only 45 percent of the university's approximately 181,000 students will feel any increase while still generating around $116 million in revenue, though student leaders called the increase a Band-Aid for the university's enduring funding issues.

"Increasing student fees is always going to be a step away from our core values," said UC Student Regent Jesse Cheng, adding that he will vote against the fee increase when the board meets next week at UC San Francisco. "It is not a solution to the long-term problems the UC is facing."

Claudia Magana, president of the UC Student Association, said though she appreciates the increase in financial aid, the UC's move toward a "high-fee, high-aid model," common at other public universities, will force students to take out even larger loans, which universities count as aid.

Despite these concerns, Yudof said students will be "defraying a relatively small share" of the university's $1 billion deficit, which includes $350 million in increased costs in the next year alone.

Yudof added that more than half of those increased costs will be taken up by increased payments into the UC's pension fund, which currently has $20 billion in unfunded liabilities.

"I don't increase fees lightly," he said in a meeting with reporters Monday. "But we need to do what we need to do so the greatest public university in the world continues along its historic trajectory in serving the people of California."

He added that though he expects the university system to take a hit when the state Legislature meets in the spring to fill a $12 billion budget hole, the university will be asking for $600 million in new funds from the state. Without those funds, he said the university would face cuts in enrollment, the elimination of programs and more layoffs.

Also included in Yudof's budget package are increases in most professional degree fees across the UC system, as well as some decreases. The fee for a degree from UC San Francisco's School of Nursing will rise by 31 percent, while the cost of a degree from UC Irvine's degree in public health will decrease by 15 percent.

Unlike systemwide fees, individual professional schools at each campus design their own three-year budget plans, while the UC Office of the President has the final say on the plans. UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business and School of Law have proposed 9 and 12 percent fee increases, respectively.

Aside from those fees, the UC will also be asking for an 8 percent increase in the student service fee, which funds programs meant to benefit students directly, including campus career centers and counseling services. That fee was not subject to the 32 percent increase last September and, as a consequence, many services faced reductions.

Sameer Khan, a UC Berkeley senior and chair of the UC's Council on Student Fees, said this may be the one bright spot in Monday's announcements, as long as revenue fees do not end up funding other programs that do not directly support students.

"If that is the sort of tactic we see ... then I need to make sure that they know it's not going to happen," Khan said.


Javier Panzar is the lead higher education reporter. Contact him at [email protected]

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