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Thursday, Jan. 17, 2002

Michael Reese (510) 987-9179


As a measure to further expand access to a University of California education, the UC Board of Regents today (Jan. 17) conditionally approved by a 17-5 vote a new tuition exemption program that will allow certain nonresident students to pay in-state fees if they have attended at least three years at and graduated from a California high school.

With the exemption, which was proposed in response to passage of Assembly Bill 540 (authored by Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh, D-Los Angeles), eligible students will be exempt from paying the nonresident tuition fee. In 2001-02, the annual nonresident tuition fee is $10,704.

"The exemption will make it easier for hard-working, talented students to attend the University of California," said UC President Richard C. Atkinson. "The regents' action today will also keep UC tuition criteria consistent with the state's policies for the California State University and California Community College campuses, which will help reduce confusion for students and parents as they consider higher education opportunities."

It is estimated that between 200 and 390 currently enrolled students would be eligible for the new exemption. Some of these eligible students are undocumented immigrants who have attended and graduated from California high schools (and must certify they are taking steps to legalize his or her immigration status as soon as eligible).

However, many are domestic students who are currently classified as nonresidents for various reasons. For instance, they may have attended high school in California, but their parents did not live here or later moved away before the student enrolled at a UC campus. Students who left California and established residency in another state, but are now returning to pursue graduate studies may also be eligible for the nonresident tuition exemption.

Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for the new exemption, regardless of their current class level.

The regents' action aligns UC policy with new state policies for CSU and the community colleges; these policies were contained in AB 540 and signed into law last October. However, implementation at UC is conditioned on the enactment of additional state legislation limiting UC's liability should the new policy ever be successfully challenged in the courts.

The governor's 2002-03 budget proposal calls for keeping UC's in-state fees constant at this year's level, the eighth consecutive year without an increase. A $428 increase is proposed for 2002-03 nonresident tuition fees.

Program costs to the university are estimated at between $2.3 million and $4.4 million annually, depending on the exact number of students who receive the exemption. In the coming weeks, the university will notify students who are currently paying nonresident tuition about exemption criteria and the application process. Additional information will be available online at

The university provides a number of other tuition exemptions for other groups of students, including children of California firefighters and law enforcement officers killed on active duty, members of the military on active duty in California and their dependents, and Native American graduates of a California high school operated by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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