UC regents reveal long-term budget plan

On Sept. 15, the University of California regents discussed a multi-year budget proposal that indicates a possible tuition increase of up to 16 percent annually over the next four years if state funding to education remains insufficient. “There are two primary sources of funding to education, state funding and tuition,” said Steve Montiel, media relations director for the UC Office of the President. “State support has been steadily declining, and as a result tuition has gone up. If there is no increase in funding, we have to find the funding to fill the gap.”

According to an executive summary of the regents’ September meeting, students are already required to cover 49 percent of the cost of a UC education. Since 1990, when the student share was only 13 percent, state funding has decreased by 60 percent.

According to Montiel, the university presently has no plans to further increase tuition, but regents are examining the hypothetical scenarios to offset the $2.5 billion dollar deficit that the university is predicted to face by 2015 should state funding not improve.

“Components of a multi-year plan would include a proposal that, under the optimal scenario, would call for eight percent annual increases each in State funds and in tuition and fees through 2015-2016,” as stated in the executive summary.

“If the State is unable to meet its share of this cost, student fees would be raised further to make up the State’s deficit.”

“This plan sets up a dependence on students for the next four years,” said Claudia Magaña, University of California Student Association president and UC Santa Cruz student. “Because the state has not shown a reliable funding pattern, this plan could lock us into four years of 16 percent fee increases. So long as fee increases are the only option on the table, other solutions will not be truly realized.”

According to Monteil, a multi-year funding plan is still in the works, and any action would probably not be taken before January.

In a July letter to UC students and parents, UC President Mark Yudof explained that the state budget approved in June “contained deep, unprecedented cuts to the University of California.”

Along with a $650 million cut in state funding to the university, the state also neglected to cover the $350 million in cost increases, which together amounted to the existing $1 billion dollar deficit.

“It really depends on state revenue, but if the economy doesn’t get better, I can only assume that the state will not prioritize restoring funds to the UC,” Magaña said.

To help compensate for this shortfall, the UC regents already approved to raise tuition twice in the 2011-2012 year.

Currently in effect, these increases brought the annual in-state student tuition and fees without room and board to $12,192, an 18.3 percent increase from last year.

According to Montiel, the tuition hikes only account for about a quarter of the billion dollar deficit.

Despite the University of California’s emphasis on upholding its quality, many students have noticed changes on campus, and have grown discouraged by rising tuition costs.

“Some students find the loan burden they would have to take on not worth it, especially when they hear about the lack of class availability, student-professor ratio, and diminished services,” Magaña said.

“Current students are struggling to hang on, taking out more loans, working more jobs, all while trying to focus on and pass classes.”

“I was talking to my cousin who just transferred to UCLA about how it’s becoming almost private-school prices,” said Janet Gonzalez, a first-semester SMC freshman from Oberlin, Ohio, who hopes to transfer to UCLA in 2013 to study communications.

Though concerned about the looming possibility of a tuition increase, Gonzalez remains steadfast in her ambition to attend her dream school.

“I guess I’ll just have to take out more loans,” Gonzalez said. “Going to UCLA has been my dream ever since I was younger. The first person in my family to go to college went there. Coming from Ohio, that’s the ultimate goal.”