Tuition hike put on hold for UC summer school

Napolitano freezes summer tuition but says hikes are still possible for fall

Students planning to attend UC's upcoming summer school sessions got a much welcome reprieve Wednesday from tuition increases that could have been as large as 5%.

UC President Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday that the system would not implement any tuition hikes for the summer since budget negotiations are underway with the legislature and governor that could affect those rates. And she said that students soon would begin registering for summer classes and would need to know what costs they face.

However, Napolitano said that she and the UC regents still plan to increase tuition for the 2015-16 school year starting in the fall if state revenues do not increase enough to offset them. Depending on state support, she said that tuition could remain frozen, as it has for the last three years, at about $12,200 or go up by as much as 5% -- or some steps in between.

Napolitano said any tuition hike is being postponed at least until the fall because she "is optimistic about the ongoing negotiations and how they will bear fruit."

Speaking to an audience at USC's Rossier School of Education in Los Angeles, she said that "as a matter of fairness, we want potential summer quarter students to enroll free from any uncertainty and unpredictability inherent in what is a fluid and still unresolved budget situation."

Napolitano and Gov. Jerry Brown have been meeting privately to discuss UC's costs and spending patterns; analysts say their sessions could lead to a compromise between them. Brown has insisted that UC not increase its tuition if it is to get any additional state funding. The UC regents have authorized the UC president to raise tuition by as much as 5% for each of the next five years if need be.

Napolitano said Wednesday that she would not make any prediction about what tuition rates will be in the fall.  But she said that the summer freeze "is certainly  a sign that we are taking our discussions [in Sacramento] very seriously."

She said she and Brown "are drilling down and covering a lot of material; she described the talks as "mutually helpful."

Napolitano said she did not know how much money UC will forgo because of the summer school decision, but said she did not think it was significant.

Napolitano made the announcement during a lecture she was invited to deliver at the Pullias Center for Higher Education on the future of universities in California.  In that speech, she stressed that cutbacks in state funding could threaten academic excellence and students' access to classes.

The summer school announcement drew praise from state Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), a UC regent who has been working on a proposal to increase higher education funding and freeze UC tuition. The legislature on Wednesday began hearings examining the UC budget.

"I am pleased President Napolitano is beginning to walk back UC's reliance on fee increases," Atkins said. She said that increased state funding and UC budget savings will keep tuition affordable and maintain UC as "a world-class treasure."

Summer school tuition is not a flat fee and depends on the campus and length of session. UC students pay $271 a credit at UCLA and $406 a credit at Berkeley, for example. Students from outside UC pay more.

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