UC Regents Make Tough Decisions Amidst Funding Uncertainty

UC_regents Credit: dailycal.org[/caption]

The University of California Board of Regents met this week to vote on several issues with large impact on university campuses statewide. UC leaders approved a resolution endorsing Governor Jerry Brown’s tax measure, otherwise known as Prop 30, while promising not to increase tuition rates for undergrads- unless Brown’s tax measure fails in November.

Should the tax measure fail at the ballot boxes this fall, a 20 percent tuition hike is likely to become a necessity for the lauded 10 campus institution. The move to approve a tuition freeze came as part of a packaged deal with the Legislature- the plan as outlined in the recently passed state budget would provide an additional $125 million to both Cal State and UC for the 2013 to 2014 fiscal year, when and if the Governor’s tax plan passes. This would apply only if the university systems maintained their current tuition levels. UC regents appear willing to take that gamble, but should the tax measure fail, a $250 million budget cut would be triggered. Tuition costs will sit at $12,192 for the time being.

Regents’ had little choice but to support Brown’s tax plan, as its failure would lead to a dramatic increase in class sizes and even fewer employees among other issues. California State University leaders have had to take a similar look at their options earlier in the week. Trustees of the 23 campus California State University system has already voted to raise tuition for the coming school year and may even opt to raise it again in an effort to meet obligations- even more likely should voters turn down the tax increase. In the case that Prop 30 is successful, the board may vote to drop tuition levels back down to last year’s level in order to qualify for the additional funding from the Legislature.

Although UC leaders voted to preserve current rates for undergrads, they also approved several tuition hikes for graduate school programs that were degree and campus specific. Two regents, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and student regent Jonathan Stein, voted against increasing fees for UC professional programs. There is concern that steep increases of up to 35 percent in some cases would make it more difficult for minorities and other disenfranchised groups to achieve graduate degrees.