FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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:
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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