Take a hike: Students and Californians oppose UC tuition increases


Students shout their disapproval after the University of California Board of Regents voted to raise tuition Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. (Eric Risberg/AP Photo)

 

By Careesa Campbell & Mercedes Del Real | Staff Writers

A recent poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California indicates that 77 percent of Californians, Democrats and Republicans alike, oppose the University of California’s proposed tuition hike.
Despite strong opposition from students, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders, the UC regents in a 14-7 vote on Nov. 20 approved a proposal to increase UC tuition as much as 28 percent over the next five years.
UC president Janet Napolitano has argued that the university needs more money to cover increasing costs of salaries, to hire more faculty and to boost the number of California undergraduates by 5,000 students.
However on Dec. 1, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins proposed to the Legislature that the university justify every cent it spends so the public can conduct a thorough investigation on the organization’s budget.
In exchange for the UC’s accountability, Atkins is proposing an additional $50 million be allocated to the system.
The PPIE poll also showed that most Californians would be unwilling to pay more taxes to maintain university’s current funding levels.
If the proposed tuition hike goes into effect, UC tuition for undergraduate students who are California residents with an income of $150,000 or higher, as well as for out-of-state students, could rise to approximately $12,804 next year, not including the cost of room, board and books.
It is estimated that by 2019-20, the UC tuition for those qualifying students could increase to $15,564.
The poll, which was taken from Nov. 10 to Nov. 17, showed that 59 percent of Californians said they thought the affordability of higher education was a “big problem” while 27 percent said it was only “somewhat of a problem.”
However, UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said in a telephone interview that Berkeley will continue with programs that make it possible for 60 percent of its students to earn a degree and graduate without debt.
“The vast majority of California students coming from families from somewhere between $80,000 to $150,000 a year will not be impacted by the tuition raise,” he said. “This university remains committed to affordability.”
Financial aid for students from low-income families would not be affected, Mogulof said.
UC received $460 million less state funding this year than it did in the 2007-08 year, despite increasing enrollment of 7,000 in-state students.
“[Students] should join us in directing their attention to Sacramento and to join us in advocacy for the state to return to historical levels of funding for the universities,” Mogulof said.
Student trustee Farihah Chowdry, 20, who is planning to transfer to UC Berkeley, said she thinks the tuition hikes are an inappropriate step taken by the UC regents.
“It’s unfortunate because especially as a community college student, the primary reason to attend here is to save money so students aren’t paying the full cost of a college education,” she said. “To come into a university where the tuition keeps increasing is not fair.”
Chowdry said more state funding would be ideal, but UC can also find other alternatives.
“I know there are more routes that don’t depend on increasing tuition for new, incoming and continuing students,” Chowdry said. “I do not support this initiative.”
Meanwhile, a dozen California State University campuses now impose a “student success fee” which can range up to $800, not including tuition, room, and board.
These fees have been enacted to hire faculty and counselors, increase course offerings and support athletics and other programs that took hits after state funding cuts.
However, the fees were not approved by a binding student vote, which is usually protocol for such proposals which resulted in student complaints.
Campuses that have implemented the student success fees include Northridge, Long Beach, San Bernardino, East Bay, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, San Jose, Pomona, San Marcos, Fullerton, San Diego and Dominguez Hills.
Political science major Jordan Gomez, 24, is planning to transfer to Cal Poly Pomona.
He said he thinks the student success fees are undemocratic.
“It’s just another way of raising tuition without raising tuition,” he said. “It’s a dodge. You call it something different, and all of a sudden people are less aware of it. It isn’t transparent on a lot of levels.”
Cal Poly Pomona’s success fee for the 2014-15 academic year is $387.
The average rate of the success fees for the 2014-15 academic year for the 12 campuses is $300, with the at San Luis Obispo at $780. Dominguez Hills has the lowest student success fee at $35.
“It seems like [universities] need funding, but they don’t want to be honest about it,” Gomez said. “I’m glad I know about [student success fees] now. I would appreciate a little more honesty from the chancellor’s office when it comes to that.”
Gomez said it’s important for students to know how the money is being spent.
“I don’t want to pay more, but I am not strictly opposed to it,” Gomez said. “It’s the deception that’s a little more aggravating.”
$12,804 next year, not including the cost of room, board and books.
It is estimated that by 2019-20, the UC tuition for those qualifying students could increase to $15,564.
The PPIE poll, which was taken from Nov. 10 to Nov. 17, showed that 59 percent of Californians said they thought the affordability of higher education was a “big problem” while 27 percent said it was only “somewhat of a problem.”
However, UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said in a telephone interview that Berkeley will continue with programs that make it possible for 60 percent of its students to earn a degree and graduate without debt.
“The vast majority of California students coming from families from somewhere between $80,000 to $150,000 a year will not be impacted by the tuition raise,” he said. “This university remains committed to affordability.”
Financial aid for students from low-income families would not be affected, Mogulof said.
UC received $460 million less state funding this year than it did in the 2007-08 year, despite increasing enrollment of 7,000 in-state students. “[Students] should join us in directing their attention to Sacramento and to join us in advocacy for the state to return to historical levels of funding for the universities,” Mogulof said.
Student trustee Farihah Chowdhury, 20, who is planning to transfer to UC Berkeley, said she thinks the tuition hikes are an inappropriate step taken by the UC regents.
“It’s unfortunate because especially as a community college student, the primary reason to attend here is to save money so students aren’t paying the full cost of a college education,” she said. “To come into a university where the tuition keeps increasing is not fair.”
Chowdhury said more state funding would be ideal, but UC can also find other alternatives. “I know there are more routes that don’t depend on increasing tuition for new, incoming and continuing students,” Chowdhury said. “I do not support this initiative.”
Meanwhile, a dozen California State University campuses now impose a “student success fee” which can range up to $800, not including tuition, room and board.
These fees have been enacted to hire faculty and counselors, increase course offerings and support athletics and other programs that took hits after state funding cuts. However, the fees were not approved by a binding student vote, which is usually protocol for such proposals which resulted in student complaints.
Campuses that have implemented the student success fees include Northridge, Long Beach, San Bernardino, East Bay, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, San Jose, Pomona, San Marcos, Fullerton, San Diego and Dominguez Hills.
Political science major Jordan Gomez, 24, is planning to transfer to Cal Poly Pomona.
He said he thinks the student success fees are undemocratic. “It’s just another way of raising tuition without raising tuition,” he said. “It’s a dodge. You call it something different, and all of a sudden people are less aware of it. It isn’t transparent on a lot of levels.”
Cal Poly Pomona’s success fee for the 2014-15 academic year is $387.
The average rate of the success fees for the 2014-15 academic year for the 12 campuses is $300, with the highest fee at San Luis Obispo at $780. Dominguez Hills has the lowest student success fee at $35.
“It seems like [universities] need funding, but they don’t want to be honest about it,” Gomez said. “I’m glad I know about [student success fees] now. I would appreciate a little more honesty from the chancellor’s office when it comes to that.”
Gomez said it’s important for students to know how the money is being spent.
“I don’t want to pay more, but I am not strictly opposed to it,” Gomez said. “It’s the deception that’s a little more aggravating.”

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