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UC May Raise Fees, Cut Service

November 15, 2002|Rebecca Trounson | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — University of California regents were warned Thursday that they must consider unpalatable options for next year, including raising student fees for California residents for the first time since 1994, if the state's fiscal picture does not improve.

The possibility of a 6.5% fee increase set off debate at the regents meeting. Stephen Klass, chairman of the UC Student Assn., urged the university not to "balance the budget on the backs of students."

The regents began preliminary discussions of the university's 2003-04 budget amid warnings from Sacramento that the state faces a budget shortfall of more than $20 billion for the second straight year.

UC officials said the university and its leaders must face the likelihood that fee increases or cuts in research, student services or other support programs may prove necessary.

"At this point, we don't know how deep the cuts are going to be, but I have to say it looks pretty scary," Larry Hershman, UC's vice president for budget, told the university's governing board.

UC President Richard C. Atkinson, who announced on Wednesday that he will retire in October, said his last UC budget cycle would be "very challenging."

The regents approved what all acknowledged was a relatively rosy preliminary budget for next year, asking for about $3.4 billion from the state to cover its share of the university's annual funding. But Hershman and others said the university was likely to get far less when Gov. Gray Davis sends legislators his budget proposal in January.

The preliminary proposal includes a request for state funding for 8,000 more students next year and a 4% average increase in faculty and staff salaries.

Most controversially, it also includes an option for a 6.5% fee increase for students who are California residents, unless the state steps in with $33 million to offset the proposed increase.

Although fees for in-state students have been steady since 1994, UC regents have increased fees almost every year for nonresident students. If the fee increase is adopted, undergraduate students will pay an average of about $225 more a year.

The average undergraduate fees are now $4,408 a year, including health fees but not room and board.

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