By a vote of 17-5, the UC Board of Regents passed a multiyear tuition and financial aid plan Thursday that will begin to increase incoming student tuition in fall 2022.
The meeting began with input from the public. Many stated their concerns about the “abrupt and unnecessary” return to work plan for UCLA Health Patient Communication Center employees, while others voiced support for a University Council-American Federation of Teachers lecturer strike, seeing as their contract negotiation has reached an impasse.
In addition, students opposed what they deemed the “never-ending” tuition increase, which they claimed directly contradicts the university’s mission to support low-income and underrepresented students.
“It is extremely disheartening and grossly irresponsible for the UC regents to even be considering adding more financial burden to families in a time of extreme need,” said Michelle Andrews, a rising junior at UC Davis, during the meeting. “Please focus on creating actual support for incoming students instead of building even more insurmountable barriers to higher education for them.”
According to UC President Michael Drake, the tuition and financial aid plan provides UC students and families with “highly desirable” tuition stability and predictability as well as expanded financial aid.
While tuition will increase for every incoming class beginning in the fall 2022, applicants will know what they are expected to pay before they apply and that tuition will remain stable throughout their academic career, Drake added. This is something board staff advisor Lucy Tseng said would be helpful, having experienced firsthand the volatility of tuition during an economic downturn.
According to Nathan Brostrom, executive vice president and chief financial officer for the university, more than half of UC students will not be affected by the tuition increase and will receive additional aid to cover increasing costs of rent, food and other necessities.
Likewise, students whose parents earn $120,000 per year or less will be paying lower tuition than they would have been if tuition remained on its current trajectory, Brostrom said.
Some regents voiced concerns about the timing of the plan, its lack of accountability and its impact on upper-middle class and international students.
With three amendments proposed by Student Regent Alexis Zaragoza and approved by the board, the plan will move forward. The board voted to reduce the tuition inflation cap from 6% to 5%, increase the tuition percentage of return to aid from 40% to 45% and reauthorize the plan in five years.
During the meeting, Pamela Brown, the vice president of Institutional Research and Academic Planning for the UC Office of the President, led a presentation on the 2021 UC accountability report and the 2030 plan.
The theme of this year’s accountability report focused on the UC’s economic impact to the state, according to Pamela Brown.
“As we look back, we look back with appreciation to the resourcefulness of those who comprise our institution,” said Provost and executive vice president for academic affairs Michael Brown during the meeting. “Let’s keep in mind that some lessons await more data as we try to understand the effects of remote operations as distinct from the effects of the unprecedented social and economic disruption we are yet experiencing.”
Pamela Brown added that a permanent investment of $240 million over four years from the state Legislature would help the UC system achieve three primary goals: increasing both hiring rates and diversity among faculty; eliminating gaps in graduation rates for Pell Grant, first-generation and underrepresented students and producing 200,000 more degrees by 2030.
Regent Michael Cohen noted that he reacted “quite negatively” to the idea of keeping track of insufficient funding from the state Legislature, which he described as “whiny.”
While acknowledging Cohen’s concerns, Regent Cecilia Estolano said she was overall impressed by the scope of the report.
“We need to tell the complete story of the university and not just focus on California undergraduates,” Estolano said during the meeting. “We can’t make a great university by only funding one thing; it’s a package.”