UC Tuition Increase Proposal Draws Student Backlash

Proposed Increase Would Go into Effect Fall 2022

UC Santa Barbara | Credit: Courtesy

The University of California has again brought a possible tuition increase back into the conversation after tabling consideration of systemwide tuition adjustments in March 2020 due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The upward adjustment in annual fees, which would go into effect in fall 2022 and impact the UC system’s nine undergraduate campuses, is intended to “provide unprecedented tuition stability and predictability for students and parents, support campus operations to maintain and improve the quality of a UC education for succeeding generations of increasingly diverse Californians and enhance financial aid and affordability for students with financial need.”

Under the current proposal, the tuition, which is currently set at $12,570 for California residents, would increase by $642 and would be re-calibrated according to the rate of inflation for each successive class of students. Once the tuition has been set for a particular class, the figure would remain unchanged for the next six years. 

“As the University examined various ways to provide students and their families greater tuition predictability and better budget planning for campuses, UC has been exploring a multi-year tuition plan for several years,” said Ryan King, the associate director of media relations for the University of California Office of the President. 

“At their July 2019 meeting, the regents expressed interest in evaluating multiple tuition options, including an approach where a tuition rate is assigned to each entering class of students and remains flat for that cohort while they are enrolled,” he continued. “In response to that request, tuition scenarios were provided to the regents for their review in advance of the board’s September and November meetings.”

The proposal, however, has been met with swift backlash from many students and their families whose financial circumstances would be exacerbated by an increase in out-of-pocket fees, as well as several California legislators and advocates, including Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis. 

“Presenting it to us as an affordability strategy does not make rational sense when you understand what it is that we are talking about, which is prolonged, sustained tuition increases,” said Kounalakis.  

Highlighting the fact that the University of California is expected to receive an estimated $685 million from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act as well as the overall surplus in state funding, Kounalakis added that “having a conversation about tuition increases […] seems like the University of California is not paying close enough attention to what is going on out there in the public sphere.”

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