UC in-state tuition to remain flat for two years under revised budget
By Jeong Park
May 14, 2015 12:56 p.m.
This post was updated on May 14 at 9:10 p.m.
University of California in-state tuition will remain flat for the next two years, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Thursday.
However, nonresident students may still see supplemental tuition increase by up to 8 percent annually during that time, if it receives the UC Board of Regents’ authorization.
Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano announced their first-ever budget and tuition agreement Thursday after months of uncertainty about whether the UC would raise tuition at the risk of losing out on additional state funds.
Under the new funding agreement, the state will allocate $436 million over the next three years to fund the University’s pension and a 4 percent base increase in funding annually for the next four years, according to Brown’s May budget revision, released Thursday.
Brown said the pension funding will come from the state’s rainy day fund created by Proposition 2, which passed last year. The state currently does not fund the UC’s pension costs, even though it does so for the California State University.
“University pension was in that wall (of debt),” Brown said. “We are helping to fund that down.”
To fulfill its part of the agreement, the regents will adopt a policy capping new University employees’ pensionable income at $117,020.
Each UC campus will also create three-year degree pathways for 10 of its 15 most popular majors. According to the budget, the state seeks to have at least 5 percent of UC students on these pathways by summer 2017.
Each UC campus will also review the number of courses required for graduation to get students to a degree more quickly.
The state will give the UC $25 million for deferred maintenance projects as well as $25 million from cap-and-trade funds for energy efficiency projects at UC campuses.
Brown vetoed a bill last year that would have given the University $50 million to fund deferred maintenance projects. UCLA said last year that it had $770 million in deferred maintenance costs.
Although in-state tuition will remain flat, the UC will increase its student services fee by 5 percent annually starting with the 2015-2016 year to pay for student mental health services and other student services. The regents voted in November to increase professional degree supplemental tuition by about 5 percent for most programs next year, and those increases will remain in effect except for at the law schools, which will have supplemental tuition frozen through the 2018-2019 academic year.
Despite the two-year freeze, Brown said he expects tuition to go up starting with the 2017-2018 academic year following six years of flat tuition. The agreement stipulates that tuition will increase from its current amount by at least the rate of inflation from the 2017-2018 academic year on, but capped at 5 percent annually.
“At some point, Hershey bars to tuition, it will go up,” Brown said.
Napolitano praised the revised budget proposal.
“This agreement … will enable the University of California to continue its role as the nation’s pre-eminent public research university,” Napolitano said in a statement.
California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said in a statement that despite the increased state funding, the UC still needs to be more efficient in its spending.
“Further actions are necessary to ensure UC returns to a model that puts California students first,” she said.
Conrad Contreras, former Undergraduate Students Association Council external vice president, said he wants to see his old office focus now on lowering tuition.
“Now that we are seeing state investment in the UC, we need to continue our efforts to make the UC more affordable,” he said.
USAC External Vice President Zach Helder said he thinks this represents a victory for students, although he thinks there needs to be a tuition freeze for nonresident students as well.
“We need to advocate on behalf of out-of-state students – they are UC students as well,” Helder said.
The UC Student Association, which advocates for UC students, praised the tuition freeze but urged the UC and the state to find a long-term plan to fund the UC.
The regents will discuss the terms of the agreement at its meeting next week at UC San Francisco. Brown will likely approve a final budget for the next fiscal year by the end of June.
Compiled by Jeong Park, Bruin senior staff.