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UC regents approve 9.3% increase in undergraduate fees

The regents OK the hike despite student criticism, saying the alternative would have been deep reductions in class offerings and services.

May 08, 2009|Larry Gordon

Despite student criticism, University of California regents on Thursday approved a 9.3% increase in undergraduate fees for next year, saying the alternative would have been deep reductions in class offerings and services.

"I don't know where else to go. I simply do not know where to go," UC President Mark G. Yudof said of the fee hike, the university's latest effort to offset state funding cuts. UC already had frozen salaries for top executives and reduced freshman enrollment for 2009-10.

Yudof said expected increases in financial aid and federal tax credits would cover the higher fees for most students.

But students denounced the decision, which will boost the average basic fees for California resident undergraduates by $662, to about $8,720 a year -- or about $25,000 with room, board and books. Graduate professional programs will see fees jump as much as 25%.

The UC board voted 17 to 4 for the undergraduate fee hike, with Regents Eddie Island, Odessa Johnson and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and student Regent D'Artagnan Scorza against it.

Island said the doubling of fees over the last decade has meant that "access and affordability are slipping away."

Some critics of UC's executive pay noted the irony that the regents Thursday also approved salaries of $450,000 and $400,000, and free housing, to new chancellors at UC San Francisco and UC Davis.

Lucero Chavez, a UC Berkeley law student who is president of the statewide UC Student Assn., said high living costs make UC among the most expensive public research universities in the nation.

She said she worried that low- and middle-income students might be scared off by "sticker shock" and never apply.

Adam Brown, a UCLA aerospace engineering major from Indiana, complained about two new burdens: the basic $662 increase along with a $2,000 fee hike for out-of-staters. "I feel I'm being taken advantage of," he said.

Yudof placed the blame on state government, which is expected to cut UC's annual $3 billion in general-revenue funding by at least $115 million for the next school year and not pay for an additional $213 million in increased costs.

Regent Sherry Lansing said she voted for the increase with sadness.

"This is not something anyone wants to do," she said.

The regents originally planned a three-day meeting at UC San Diego but opted for a one-day meeting by conference call from 13 locations, citing security and medical concerns related to the swine flu outbreak.

In other action, the regents chose Russell Gould to be their next chairman, replacing Richard C. Blum on July 1. Gould, a finance expert and current regents vice chairman, was director of the state Department of Finance under Gov. Pete Wilson.

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larry.gordon@latimes.com

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