Thursday, July 17, 2003

Hanan Eisenman (510) 587-6194

Brad Hayward (510) 987-9091

Budget cuts force increase in UC student fees

Acting to prevent ever-deeper state budget cuts from damaging the quality of the student instructional program, the University of California Board of Regents voted today (July 17) to raise 2003-04 student fees 25 percent above their current level.

The board also gave UC President Richard C. Atkinson authority to increase the fee hike to 30 percent if the state's budget situation requires. Atkinson said he hopes to establish a final fee level soon so that students and families may be given as much notice as possible. For resident undergraduates, a 25 percent increase would be $960 and a 30 percent increase would be $1,150.

The regents' vote was 13-3.

"The state's budget cuts to the university have continued to deepen, and next year may be even worse than this year," Atkinson told the regents. "We now are on the verge of doing great harm to the academic quality of the University of California, including the quality of the student educational experience, unless we take action.

"This fee proposal is a difficult one, but it is only one of many actions being taken to cope with this budget crisis, and I believe it is essential if we are to avoid cutting class offerings, increasing class sizes, and delaying students' progress to graduation. We have a strong financial aid program in place that will mitigate or eliminate the effects of this fee increase for lower-income students, as well as for many middle-income students."

Since the beginning of the state's budget crisis, the UC system has taken about $360 million in base budget cuts to existing programs, including the cuts proposed in the Governor's Budget for 2003-04. (UC's current state-funded budget is approximately $3 billion.) All non-instructional programs are taking significant cuts, including administration, libraries, research, outreach, student services, and Cooperative Extension, and employee layoffs are being planned or implemented in most of these areas. Faculty salaries now lag those of comparable institutions by 9 percent, and UC has a similar challenge with respect to staff salaries.

In addition, the Legislature is considering even deeper cuts beyond those supported by the governor. Both houses have agreed on additional cuts of $80 million to the university, and even further cuts totaling as much as $400 million are being debated. The extra $80 million cut has required UC to consider fee increases above those assumed in the Governor's Budget. UC also expects to cope with the cut by borrowing $40-50 million in the 2003-04 year.

Today, before the fee increase, UC mandatory systemwide student fees for resident undergraduates ($3,834 per year) are just $35 more than in 1994-95. After increasing significantly during the budget crisis of the early 1990s, UC mandatory systemwide fees did not increase for seven years -- and fell 10 percent in the late 1990s for resident undergraduates.

The state will still pay most of the $16,900 annual cost of educating a UC undergraduate, though the budget crisis means the state's subsidy will now be less generous. A 30 percent fee increase still would leave resident undergraduate fees more than $1,200 below the average of UC's public comparison institutions (Illinois, Michigan, SUNY Buffalo, and Virginia).

The fee increases approved by the regents include the following:

  • A 25 percent increase in mandatory systemwide student fees above the current level, which reflects the $405 annualized increase that was adopted beginning with the spring 2003 term. For resident undergraduates, the additional 25 percent would raise fees $960 to $4,794 per year. For resident graduate academic students, the increase would be $1,005, bringing mandatory systemwide fees to $5,019 per year. (Students must also pay campus-based miscellaneous fees, which would bring total average fees to $5,247 for resident undergraduates and $6,346 for resident graduate academic students.)

  • A 25 percent increase in fees for selected professional school students, with increases ranging from $563 for nursing to $1,894 for law. These students also pay systemwide fees, which would increase by $1,260. Factoring in both increases and the campus-based fees, total fees for resident professional students would range from $9,368 for nursing to $15,966 for law.

  • Authority for the president to raise both mandatory systemwide fees and fees for selected professional schools by up to 30 percent in 2003-04 if the state budget situation requires. In this case, for resident undergraduates, fees would increase by $1,150 to $4,984 per year. For resident graduate academic students, fees would increase by $1,205 to $5,219 per year. (Counting campus-based miscellaneous fees, the average total would be $5,437 for resident undergraduates and $6,546 for resident graduate academic students.)

  • A 10 percent increase in nonresident tuition, or $1,250 for undergraduates and $1,113 for graduate students. Nonresidents also pay regular and campus-based fees; with the 25 percent increase, the total would be $19,443 for undergraduates and $18,832 for graduate students. With the 30 percent increase, the totals would be $19,647 and $19,036, respectively.

In general, financially needy undergraduates with family incomes of $60,000 or less will have the increase fully covered by financial aid. In the case of financially needy undergraduates with family incomes between $60,000 and $90,000, a UC fee grant will cover about half the increase. More information about financial aid is at www.universityofcalifornia.edu/admissions/youcan/

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