Capitol Alert

UC and CSU prepare for another year of tuition hikes

Facing smaller increases in state budget support than they anticipated, both of California’s public university systems are preparing to raise tuition again next year.

The University of California’s governing board is set to vote Wednesday on a plan that would hike tuition and fees by $342, or 2.7 percent, to $12,972 in the 2018-19 academic year. Out-of-state and international students would see their supplemental tuition, which nonresidents pay on top of other costs, grow by 3.5 percent to $28,992.

Officials say the additional revenue is needed to hire new faculty, increase course availability, expand access to mental health services and fix aging campuses as UC adds students. The university has been rapidly growing its undergraduate ranks in recent years under a deal with Gov. Jerry Brown, and expects to enroll 2,000 more California students than it did last year.

But they also argue that Brown has forced their hand, by providing a boost of only 3 percent to UC funding in his budget proposal, when the university was planning on an increase of 4 percent under a multiyear agreement reached in 2015.

“The state budget process has just begun and we hope to continue conversations with the governor and the Legislature to ensure expanded access for fall 2018 and to restore the university to the funding envisioned in the framework,” UC President Janet Napolitano and Board of Regents chair George Kieffer said in a statement after Brown unveiled his plan earlier this month.

That’s not going to happen, according to Brown. At his budget press conference, he said UC and California State University would simply have to lower their cost structures and “live within their means.”

“You’re getting 3 percent more and that’s it,” he said. “They’re not going to get any more. They’ve got to manage. I think they need a little more scrutiny over how they’re spending things.”

Brown has also pointed the finger back at them, making the case in budget documents that when UC and CSU raise tuition, as they did last year for the first time in six years, there is less higher education funding available because the state has to put additional money into its financial aid programs.

Though not yet scheduled for a vote, CSU’s Board of Trustees will also discuss a possible tuition hike at its meeting next week. The plan would raise fees by $228, or nearly 4 percent, to $5,970 in 2018-19.

The university is seeking nearly $200 million more than the governor is offering, to pay for its ongoing graduation initiative, enrollment growth, employee raises and facilities needs. In a statement, Chancellor Timothy White said Brown’s proposed funding alone would increase the CSU budget by less than the rate of inflation.

“This budget proposal could reverse any progress made in the last decade – diminishing student access, success, limiting degree attainment and depriving California’s industries of skilled professionals,” he said. “Additional investment in the CSU and public higher education is both warranted and necessary – providing a return on public investment many times over.”

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Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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