Regents Approve Student Fee Increases, Vote to Expand Financial Aid Program
The UC Board of Regents at its November meeting at UCLA approved a systemwide budget plan that seeks an infusion of an additional $913 million in state funding and also incorporates two student fee increases. The actions are designed to help bridge a severe shortfall brought on by the state fiscal crisis.
The Regents also approved an increase in financial aid for undergraduates.
The vote to raise fees came amid protests by hundreds of UC students who gathered outside Covel Commons to voice their opposition. The lone dissenting vote was cast by Student Regent Jesse Bernal, a graduate student at UCSB.
The student fee increases will be enacted in two stages — a mid-year fee increase for 2009-10, and fee increases for the 2010-11 academic year.
For California residents, the new fee levels include a mid-year increase in January 2010 of $585 or 15 percent for undergraduate and graduate professional degree students. The increase will be $111, or 2.6 percent, for graduate academic degree students. Fees for the 2010-11 academic year will rise again by $1,334, or 15 percent, for both resident undergraduate and graduate students starting in summer 2010.
The Regents also approved increases in professional degree fees for 2010-11 ranging from $280 to $5,696.
As in the past, a third of the revenue from the fee increases will be set aside to provide need-based financial aid for undergraduates and professional school students, while half will be set aside to assist graduate academic students.
At the November meeting, the Regents also voted to expand the Blue and Gold Opportunity Program to ensure that qualified California undergraduates with financial need and family incomes of $70,000 or below will have all systemwide fees covered.
“We’re being forced to impose a user tax on our students and their families,” said UC President Mark Yudof during the finance committee hearing on November 18. “This is a tax necessary because our political leaders have failed to adequately fund public higher education.”
In advance of the Regents’ meeting and then in response to their vote to raise fees, student protests were held at many UC campuses, including UCSB. A rally took place on November 16 outside Cheadle Hall, and student organizers were planning to hold a one-day hunger strike in the Cheadle Hall plaza as this issue went to press.
Taken together, the 2009-10 mid-year fee increase and the 2010-11 increases will generate approximately $505 million, of which $175 million will be set aside for financial aid. However, revenue from the fee increases will address only a portion of UC’s budget shortfall, which was created by state budget cuts of $814 million in 2008-09 and $637 million in 2009-10. In addition, UC campuses face $368 million in mandatory costs that the state failed to fund in the last two years, and an additional $218 million in mandatory costs for 2010-11. More than two-thirds of the additional money to be sought from Sacramento represents a restoration of previous budget cuts enacted in the last two fiscal years.