My November newsletter

November 26, 2014

Dear friends and colleagues,

Earlier this month, the Board of Regents approved a five-year funding sustainability plan for UC that includes, among other steps, modest, predictable tuition increases that will help preserve the University of California’s excellence, ensure access and affordability for our growing and diverse student body and allow families to budget for the total cost of a UC education.

The plan provides for tuition and fee increases of no more than 5 percent annually for five years as long as the state increases its contribution to UC by 4 percent a year, which equates to a 1.7 percent increase to UC's core educational budget. The 5 percent figure is a ceiling. These tuition and fee increases could be lower, or eliminated completely, if the state increases its level of support to address the fact that UC's state funding for educating students remains $460 million lower than it was in 2007–08, even though we are educating over 20,000 more students than we did at that time.

The plan will allow the University to enroll at least 5,000 more California students over five years (with enrollment growth on every campus), ensure the continuation of the nation’s most robust financial aid program under which 55 percent of all California undergraduates have their tuition and fees fully covered, improve the student-faculty ratio, offer more courses, increase student support services, boost graduation rates and speed up time to degree.

You can read full details of the plan here, and I encourage you to familiarize yourself with it.

To be clear, I do not want tuition to rise. We’ve taken significant steps to cut UC’s costs and make its operations more efficient. In the last four years, the University has generated $664 million in savings and new revenue.  

Our commitment to cost cutting and the development of alternative revenues will continue. Our long-term financial plan includes no growth in non-academic staff, efforts to increase philanthropic giving, and containment of health care costs, among other efficiency efforts.

We are doing our part, and now the state must do its part. UC cannot cut its way to continued excellence. The state needs to reinvest in public higher education and fully fund UC so the University can keep its promise to the people of California. It is because of falling state contributions – which are near their lowest level per student in 30 years – that tuition must now be back on the table.

I believe it should be on the table in a way that provides predictability, keeps the increases as low as possible, and avoids the feast-or-famine approach to tuition policies of the past. 

Last week, the Board of Regents voted to support the funding plan after a robust exchange of views. It was clear to me from the exchanges that, whatever our differences over the best way to address UC’s financial challenges, we all share a deep love of the University and want to protect it.

And on that note, I want to pause to thank the students who appeared at the Regents meeting for their passionate contribution to the debate. Some traveled long distances and many sacrificed valuable school time to make their feelings known. I appreciate their efforts, and I share their concern about UC’s future.

I also appreciate Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins expressing their desire to work together to find ways to address UC’s funding challenges. I welcome their partnership and ideas as we move forward.

But move forward we must. We have a responsibility to this great state to stabilize the University’s finances and ensure it can continue to offer a world-class education to all of California’s qualified and eligible students, and help drive California’s economic vitality.

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to share an idea or comment, feel free to email me at janet@ucop.edu. And please pass this note on to friends and colleagues you think might be interested. If they like it, encourage them to sign up for future newsletters.

Yours very truly,

Janet Napolitano
President