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UC students face increased fees

Regents are weighing hikes totaling $2,514 for undergraduates from California over the next year, blaming the state's budget problems. Students react angrily.

September 11, 2009|Larry Gordon

University of California undergraduates, who already have seen their basic fees rise $662 this year, face additional hikes of $2,514 over the next year, starting with a midyear increase this winter, according to a proposal released by the university Thursday.

If approved by the regents, basic undergraduate fees for California resident students would rise to $10,302 by next fall, or 44% higher than in the fall of 2008. The first portion of that would be a $585 increase for the rest of the current school year, starting with the winter quarter or spring semester. Graduate students would see somewhat higher jumps.

On average, UC students also pay $930 in campus fees and up to $16,000 for room, board, books and other expenses.

UC officials say they have few alternatives given the state budget's grim outlook and the toll that funding cuts have taken on the university, including canceled classes, staff layoffs and pay reductions.

The UC board is scheduled to discuss the fee proposal and other austerities at a meeting next week in San Francisco. Officials said the regents also will consider ideas to reduce freshman enrollment by an additional 2,300 students, similar to a drop this year that brought the number of freshmen to about 35,300, and to charge extra fees for some upper division undergraduate majors, such as business and engineering.

Regents are not expected to vote on those matters until November, which still would allow enough time to include the midyear increase in second-term bills, officials said. In May, regents approved a $662, or 9.3%, hike that just took effect.

Student leaders expressed outrage Thursday about the latest proposed increase.

"It's very saddening to again see that what is the No. 1 obstacle for students entering the university, and staying here, is on the table as a solution," UC Student Assn. President Victor Sanchez said.

Sanchez, a fourth-year undergraduate student at UC Santa Cruz, accused the university and the state of "balancing the budget on the backs of students year after year." At the same time, he said, students were being asked to pay more for less.

UC spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said that officials in the 10-campus system knew that a fee increase would be painful for students but that alternative measures, including increases in class size and elimination of some academic programs, would also be difficult. To protect UC's quality, he said, "all options need to be put on the table, including student fees."

A third of any fee increases would go to financial aid, according to the plan.

UC fees generally have been lower than the average of four other public universities -- those in Virginia, Michigan, Illinois and New York -- to which it often compares itself. But if the latest increases are approved, UC's 2010-2011 fees are projected to be about $300 more than that average, although still about $2,000 below the Illinois and Michigan charges.

Meanwhile in Sacramento on Thursday, the state Senate approved a measure that prohibits executive pay raises at UC and Cal State during years when state funding for the university systems does not increase. The bill now goes to the governor's desk.

Its sponsor, Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), said it would "ensure that top execs are not living high on the hog, while the students are unfairly suffering."

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larry.gordon@latimes.com

Time staff writer Patrick McGreevy contributed to this report from Sacramento.

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