UC Regents Approve 10% Fee Increase for California Residents

Times Education Writer

Over the objections of student leaders, University of California Regents on Friday approved a 10% increase in fees for California residents. Starting next fall, state residents will pay an average of $1,697 a year for a UC education, not including room and board.

The regents also raised tuition and fees for out-of-state residents 15%, to an average of $7,496.

The votes echoed proposals in Gov. George Deukmejian’s recent budget, which a majority of the regents clearly felt they could not buck. With Friday’s votes, the regents superseded their approval last November of much smaller increases for the coming year.

The vote to increase Californians’ fees was 9 to 3, with only Regents John Henning, Jeremiah Hallisey and Deborah Thorpe, the student representative, opposing it. Thorpe cast the only “no” vote on the out-of-state tuition increase.


Tradition Invoked

“This is a public university. To look to the students to carry the (financial) burden is against the whole tradition of public education,” said Henning, who is a labor leader. He said the increases would discourage low-income and minority students from enrolling at UC’s nine campuses.

UC President David P. Gardner denied that, stressing that financial aid would be increased so that needy students would not have to pay more. University officials also pointed out that the increased fees would still be well below those at many other state universities, such as the University of Michigan and Indiana University, where fees are $3,011 and $1,887, respectively.

However, Tracey Woodruff, president of the UC Student Assn., dismissed such comparisons. “We should not simply seek to match the average fees, or the average quality, of other public universities,” said Woodruff, a graduate student in bio-engineering at UC San Francisco. “We should strive to remain among the best and most financially accessible universities in the nation.”

Application Fee to Rise

Woodruff also criticized Gardner’s announcement that the application fee for admission would be raised $5 to $40. Most students apply to three UC campuses, bringing the total fee to $120, which she said “clearly represents a barrier to access.” The application fee increase does not require approval by the regents.

Much of the discussion Friday focused on 1985 state legislation that calls for UC fees for Californians to be kept as low as possible and for increases to be gradual and moderate. That policy allows annual increases of up to 10% in case of unforeseen financial emergencies.

According to the governor and UC administrators, the combined effects of the Gann amendment and Proposition 98 have created such an emergency.

The Gann amendment, passed in 1979, establishes a formula limiting the year-to-year growth in state spending. Proposition 98, passed two months ago, sets minimum spending levels for elementary and secondary schools and community colleges. UC and Cal State officials are concerned that their budgets will be squeezed by the two measures.

Gardner warned Friday that unless the Gann limit and Proposition 98 are removed or changed, UC may have to drop its commitment to enrolling all applicants who are academically in the top one-eighth of California high school graduates. “Indeed, we will be unable to sustain the University of California in its present form and at its current level of distinction,” Gardner said.

However, Lt. Gov. Leo T. McCarthy, who is an ex-officio regent, cautioned board members against getting too involved in fights against Proposition 98. “I think it would be a sorry mistake for the university to appear to be going to war with K-12,” he said, referring to kindergarten-through-12th-grade public schools .

In response, several regents said they wished they had spoken out more forcefully against Proposition 98 before the Nov. 8 election. “I think being too timid, too bashful is a mistake,” said Regent William French Smith, the former U.S. attorney general.

The governor’s proposed budget would provide $2.053 billion in state general funds for the UC system in the 1989-90 fiscal year, up 4% from the current year. In addition to the fee increases, the budget calls for a one-time diversion of $68 million from the state’s contribution to UC pension funds to the university system’s operations. The governor proposed to repay the money over 30 years, starting next year.

Opponents of the fee increases questioned the need to act on the governor’s plan quickly, especially since a final budget probably will not pass the Legislature until the summer. Gardner, however, responded that students and their families deserved as much notice as possible, and that refunds could be made if the state’s fiscal condition improves--a prospect that he said appeared remote.