Two California institutes of higher education are considering implementing tuition increasing during the upcoming academic year in order to offset shortfalls they say are in Gov. Jerry Brown’s January budget proposal.
In January, Brown proposed an annual 3 percent increase to the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU), stating that the new funding would result in no tuition increases during the 2018-19 year.
However, both the UC and CSU claim the governor’s budget proposal does not adequately match rising inflation costs nor provide enough support to achieve their institutional and student success goals.
“The 2018-2019 budget proposal from the governor’s office is both concerning and surprising,” CSU Chancellor Timothy White said in a statement following Brown’s budget proposal. “The proposed level of funding, as a percent of our operating budget, provides an increase to our operating budget that is half the rate of inflation. Directives and constraints within the proposal further limit our ability to address critical university needs.”
University Board of Regents Chair George Kieffer and UC President Janet Napolitano had a similar reaction to the proposal, arguing that the increased funding was less than the university system expected to receive.
“This 3 percent increase, however, is less than we anticipated under the framework we established with the governor,” Kieffer and Napolitano said in a joint statement. “That agreement acknowledged the need for ongoing, predictable state funding to maintain UC quality and access while requiring the university to lower its cost structure.”
Now, the UC is considering increasing resident tuition by 2.7 percent and nonresident tuition by 3.5 percent, and the CSU is considering increasing undergraduate and credential tuition by 3.8 percent and graduate tuition by 5.7 percent.
However, both institutes of higher education have not yet voted to approve any tuition increases for their students for the upcoming academic year.
On Wednesday, the UC Board of Regents was supposed to vote on its proposed tuition increases for the 2018-19 year.
But, following a strong response from UC students and a letter from Brown, the regents decided to wait to vote on the topic until its meeting in May.
The proposed increase would raise resident tuition and student service fees by $342, bringing overall tuition to $12,972. It also would have raised non-resident tuition by $978, bringing overall tuition to 28,992.
This additional funding from tuition would go toward financial aid, faculty, classes, student mental health services, capital needs, employee and retiree benefits and faculty and staff compensation, according to the agenda.
It also would support the UC’s plan for enrollment growth to add an additional 2,000 undergraduates and 500 graduates to its program.
But, in a letter to the regents, Brown called the increase “premature,” claiming that the state has increased support for the UC by $1.2 billion since 2012.
“I encourage you to reject outright the current proposal to increase student tuition,” Brown wrote. “I urge you to focus on reducing the system’s cost structures rather than increase the financial burdens on students.”
The CSU is also considering potential tuition increases to support university operations, promote student success and timely degree achievement, according to its website.
“Over the last two-and-a-half decades, state support per student for the CSU has declined while enrollment demands have dramatically increased,” the CSU said online. “Today, state support per student remains thousands of dollars below 1990s levels. At the same time, the CSU is doing more with less, enrolling and graduating more students than ever before.”
At a CSU Board of Trustees meeting in November, the board approved a budget requesting an increase of $282.9 million to fund the university -wide Graduation Initiative 2025, compensation, enrollment growth, facilities and infrastructure needs and mandatory costs, according to White.
Brown’s budget instead proposed an increase of $92.1 million to the CSU’s operating budget.
“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,” White said in a statement. “Additional investment in the CSU and public higher education is both warranted and necessary – providing a return on public investment many times over.”
To align these funding levels, CSU is considering several options to meet financial needs: seeking additional funding from the legislature, and pursuing revenue enhancement strategies including a tuition increase, according to its November Board of Trustees meeting agenda.
The tuition hike would increase undergraduate tuition by $228, credential tuition by $264 and graduate tuition by $432.
The CSU Board of Trustees is expected to discuss, but take no action on, the possible tuition increase during its meeting next week.
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