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UC Officials Say 10% Fee Hike Too Low

They say undergraduate rates may need to be raised even more to offset a newly projected shortfall from graduate students' payments.

March 18, 2004|Peter Y. Hong | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — Fees for undergraduates at the University of California, already set to increase by 10% next school year, might have to be raised further to maintain quality during the state's fiscal crisis, UC officials said Wednesday.

At their meeting here, UC officials told the UC Board of Regents that fee increases called for in the governor's current budget, including a 40% boost for graduate students, would not raise as much revenue as originally projected.

The reason for the shortfall is that most graduate students have their fees paid by UC as compensation for work as teaching or research assistants. Fee increases for graduate students actually end up costing UC more money than is raised in additional funds, said UC's vice president for budget, Larry Hershman.

Hershman said "there is a widespread feeling" among faculty and administrators "that a 40% increase is totally out of line with what is reasonable."

To cover such a dramatic hike, Hershman said, money for undergraduate financial aid would have to be diverted to graduate students.

That would jeopardize a defining quality of the UC system -- its ability to enroll a substantial number of poor students in a world-class university system, Hershman said.

"Over 30% of UC students are low-income, [and] at most of the other major public universities it's about 10%," Hershman said.

Hershman called on the regents to weigh options such as raising both undergraduate and graduate fees by 15%. The higher undergraduate fee would raise enough additional money to cover financial aid costs, while the more modest increase in graduate student fees would be more manageable.

Low-income students would still be able to enroll because of increased financial aid, Hershman said, but "middle- and upper-income students would be the ones worse off."

Hershman said he hoped the board would be able to present a fee proposal before the state's May budget revision. The regents agreed to study the issue.

California Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said the Schwarzenegger administration would cooperate with the UC system to determine appropriate fee increases.

"We recognize the UC system is working through a number of difficult issues," Palmer said.

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