The University of California is one step closer to a finalized budget for 2014-15, following Gov. Jerry Brown’s release of his preliminary state budget, which grants the university nearly $3 billion in state funds, an increase of $142.2 million from last year.
Brown introduced his budget proposal at a Thursday morning press conference in Sacramento. The budget also offers a $50 million awards program to California public institutions of higher education to increase the number of Californians who get bachelor’s degrees, increase the rate of four-year graduation and make it easier for community college students to transfer.
The university’s preliminary budget, passed by the UC Board of Regents at its November meeting, planned for $120.9 million more in state funding, almost double the 5 percent increase the university will actually receive according to Brown’s budget. Napolitano requested the additional funding, stating that the planned 5 percent increase did not do enough to support the university.
At the meeting, Brown told the regents that the university should not expect additional funding, handing them what he called “a reality sandwich.”
Brown said his budget will benefit students by continuing to hold tuition steady at $12,192 after a total increase of $5,556 between the 2007-08 and 2011-12 academic years and by encouraging shorter graduation times with the awards program.
Brown reiterated that UC, CSU and community colleges must reduce their own costs, recommending online technology and flexible curriculums as pathways to these reduced costs.
“We have to find ways of reducing the cost structure,” Brown said at the conference. “It used to be four years and free; now it’s six years and expensive.”
Patrick Lenz, the UC system’s vice president of budget and capital resources, said in a press release that the university “appreciates” the additional $142.2 million in state funding, which is in line with the governor’s funding plan that began last year.
The university will continue working with the governor and legislature on “the critical need to reinvest in the academic quality that allows more faculty hiring, graduate student support, and funding for instructional equipment, technology and UC libraries,” Lenz said.
The UC Student Association applauded the Brown budget’s “fiscal responsibility” but said higher education funding would be a “smart investment” for California.
“After years of devastating tuition increases and budget cuts to the UC, students are eager for reinvestment,” the association said in a statement Friday.
Brown’s budget also proposed the Middle Class Scholarship Program, which will give financial aid to students with family incomes as high as $150,000.
Lenz said this program will give aid to some of the 30 percent of UC students without any financial help and increase financial aid for many students who are not fully covered.