The Regents of the University of California have made a ruling to increase tuition on their campuses another 5% per year over the next five years compounding to a total of 27%. This passed in spite of protests by students and impassioned pleas against it, one most notably, from Governor Jerry Brown.
Governor Brown went so far as promising a 5% increase per year in funding if the current tuition freeze were to remain in effect. Apparently, this was not enough for Janet Napolitano, the UC President.
The controversies surrounding the rate hike are myriad.
“Two months ago, the UC regents gave pay hikes of up to 20% to the leaders of the Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Merced and Riverside campuses and awarded the new Irvine chancellor 24% more than his predecessor. We’re talking salaries ranging from $383,000 to $485,000, plus perks” LA Times
The article also explains:
“So UC undergraduate tuition today is more than eight times what it was 25 years ago, at $12,192. Tack on campus fees, books, room, board and other stuff and you’re up to $33,000 a year.”
California once had the best fees in the nation for State operated institutions. According to the New York Times article, they are already above the National average. The increase will put them even further afield from other States.
Napolitano’s promises for the money include additional courses, more financial aid and staff increases. These may give way to another more urgent budgetary issue:
“.. UC officials say the system also needs the money to help rescue its pension fund – neglected for two decades and facing $7.2 billion in unfunded liabilities – and to cover the growing cost of retiree health benefits.” Sac Bee
A new wrinkle has also come forward, thanks to President Obama’s new Immigration Order. Napolitano has offered to fund expanded legal services to its undocumented students. At the same time, legal citizens are being forced to up the ante for their education.
The most disconcerting fact surrounding the UC tuition rate hikes is the fact that the State of California is predicting budget surpluses in the amount of $5.6 billion for the 2014-15 fiscal year with projections of annual increases to over $10billion by 2017-18. It appears that a reevaluation of budget priorities are in order.
If California ever expects to climb its way back up in the rankings of states, it needs to give its future a chance with a quality, affordable education for its citizens.