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California higher education leaders warn of further tuition increases

California’s public higher education leaders warned Monday that additional tuition increases could be in store this fall if legislators or voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to extend several recent tax hikes. And even if the tax proposal is approved, the educators said, they expect some academic programs to be eliminated next year.

University of California President Mark G. Yudof, California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed and California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott appeared before a state legislative panel in Sacramento to discuss Brown’s plan to cut $1.4 billion from higher education funding. Brown has warned that the reduction will be significantly deeper if the Legislature does not put a trio of tax extensions on the June ballot, or if voters reject the measures.

Reed said he hopes the Cal State system can avoid tuition hikes beyond the 10% already approved for the 2011-12 school year. Those increases will bring undergraduates’ basic annual charges, not including living costs, to $4,884. But if the tax measure fails, “everything has to be back on the table,” Reed said.

Similarly, Yudof said he had no plans to push the UC system’s tuition beyond the 8% increase approved for the fall, which will raise the charges for undergraduates to about $11,124. But he said he could not guarantee that without knowing the results of the June election.

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Although Brown’s plan calls on community colleges to increase their charges to $36 per credit, from $26, Scott said the schools will be unable to hire enough teachers to meet the demand for classes. Hundreds of thousands of students will be locked out of courses they need, Scott told the Assembly subcommittee on education finance.

The Cal State and UC system leaders said they would consider enrollment reductions and ask campuses to study dropping programs with low enrollment that might be available at other campuses. “We are looking at layoffs. We are looking at program elimination, at shrinking the enterprise,” Yudof said.

larry.gordon@latimes.com


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