Second round of tuition hikes likely at UC and Cal State systems

Students at the University of California and Cal State University systems are likely to face a second round of tuition hikes this fall in response to deeper funding cuts in the new state budget, officials and student leaders said Wednesday.

Discussions are underway for tuition increases of at least 10%. That hike would come on top of an 8% increase at UC and a 10% boost at Cal State that already are set to take effect this fall.

An early victim of the state budget cuts is a new medical school at UC Riverside. Campus officials said Wednesday they would delay opening the school by a year, until fall 2013.

Student leaders expressed disappointment about their soaring tuition and said that Sacramento is putting the brunt of the state’s budget problems on them. A decade of increases has more than tripled tuition to about $11,000 a year at UC and $4,884 at Cal State, not including room, board and other fees.


“Ultimately, this again represents the ongoing disinvestment in higher education in California,” said Christopher Chavez, outgoing president of the Cal State Student Assn. “What it comes down to is that students are expected to pay more and to get less.”

UC student regent Alfredo Mireles, a graduate student at UC San Francisco, said he understands why regents would probably approve further tuition increases rather than layoffs that would diminish academic quality. Still, he said he would vote against any increase to protest what he described as state leaders’ lack of compassion.

“The general sentiment seems to be that my generation and those that follow mine don’t deserve an accessible and affordable university,” he said.

Nathan Brostrom, UC’s executive vice president for business operations, said it was “very likely” that UC President Mark G. Yudof would ask the regents to approve a tuition increase at their meeting in San Francisco in July. He said the size of the increase and whether it would go into effect this fall or winter remain under study.

A 10% increase — about $1,100 per undergraduate student — would cover the extra $150 million reduction in UC’s state funding included in the new state budget, but the 10-campus university might need more to help pay for growing pension and healthcare costs, he said. The costs of graduate and professional school programs are expected to rise as well.

The 23-campus Cal State system is looking at an additional 10% to 15% tuition hike, as much as $733 more per student. It is also considering enrollment cuts in the winter and spring terms and employee reductions through attrition and layoffs, officials said. The Cal State trustees will consider the proposals at a meeting in Long Beach on July 12.

Both universities promise additional financial aid to help needy students.

Under a previous budget plan, state funding to each university system was to drop by $500 million. Now, with Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to extend several temporary taxes blocked by Republicans, the budget approved late Tuesday by the Legislature’s Democratic majority increases those cuts by $150 million for each system and includes the possibility of an additional $100-million reduction each if legislators’ forecast of an extra $4 billion in revenue does not materialize.

“It may not be the worst-case scenario, but it’s a pretty bad-case scenario,” said Robert Turnage, Cal State’s assistant vice chancellor for budget. The $650-million reduction represents a cut of about 25% from last year’s state support, he said.

At UC, the $650-million reduction represents a 21% drop in state funds. UC’s overall budget is $20 billion, including hospital revenue, federal research grants and other items, but the non-state funding usually does not support undergraduate education, Brostrom said.

Cal State and UC students are advocating legislation under review in Sacramento that would require legislators and university officials to consult with students and give six months’ notice for tuition hikes. If approved, the measure, AB970, authored by Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Sunnyvale), probably would not change the current tuition proposals.

At UC Riverside, administrators said they were unable to win the stable state funding that an accreditation agency required before giving the proposed medical school its stamp of approval.

Although student applications won’t be accepted this year, staff members will continue to work on establishing programs and raising money, according to campus Chancellor Timothy P. White.

“This is a temporary setback, but we will prevail,” White said in a prepared statement.