The University of California’s tuition and fees cost almost $2,000 more than the national average for doctorate-granting universities, according to a College Board study released last week.
The study found that the UC’s tuition and systemwide fees of $12,630 cost about $1,800 more than the national average for doctorate-granting universities. Ozan Jaquette, an assistant professor of education at UCLA, said the UC charges high tuition relative to other research universities to keep faculty members’ pay competitive with private universities and other well-funded public universities.
“The UC has more constitutional autonomy than (other) California colleges (so) they have more ability to push for higher tuition prices,” he said. “UC campuses generally are in this arms race for prestige and rankings, and want to be a world-class research university.”
Universities often raise faculty pay and funds for research facilities to attract prestigious faculty, and tuition increases often partially cover these expenses, he said.
Jason Constantouros, a senior fiscal and policy analyst at the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, said the state and UC determine faculty compensation by averaging faculty compensation at four national private and public schools.
Jaquette said he thinks it is difficult for the UC to financially compete in attracting faculty with other public universities that enroll more out-of-state students, who pay more tuition.
Despite the study’s findings on the UC’s cost of attendance, the UC’s net price for students after financial aid is about average compared to similar universities, UC spokesperson Dianne Klein said in an email statement.
Klein added that for low-income students, it is often less expensive to attend a UC school than a California State University or California Community College because the UC awards more financial aid.
The UC spends about one-third of the money it collects from tuition and fees on financial aid for students, according to UC Office of the President’s institutional research department. About 65 percent of UC students receive financial aid, according to a UC report from 2013.
Jaquette said the state has dramatically decreased funding for the UC since the 2000s, which he thinks has made it harder for the UC to offer competitive faculty salaries.
“When the state pulled out and UCs had less funding, there’s always this thing of strong professors from public universities getting pushed by places with more money,” he said. “Stanford and Harvard are trying to dangle salaries that a UC (school) can’t hope to compete with.”