The UC Board of Regents approved a 2.6% ($762) increase to nonresident tuition for the 2019–20 school year at the meeting on May 16. The vote passed with 12 Regents voting yes, six voting no, and one abstaining.
The UC Office of the President (UCOP) originally proposed this increase in March, but the Board of Regents voted to table it for two months after strong opposition from Regents and the UC Student Association (UCSA).
UCOP proposed the tuition raise, which increases the UC Nonresident Supplemental Tuition (NRST), a mandatory fee charged to nonresident students, by 2.6% ($762), bringing it up to $29,754 for the 2019–20 academic year. This raises the estimated total cost of attendance for nonresident students—including out-of-state, international, and undocumented students—to $42,324.
“For years the university has been sending a very clear message to many Californians like myself and it is that we do not belong at the University of California if we cannot pay,” UCSA President and Associated Students of UC San Diego Vice President of External Affairs Caroline Siegel-Singh said at the beginning of the meeting. “I want to make it very clear that more than a year ago, in March 2018, we were told that our concerns regarding nonresident financial aid and non-AB 540 undocumented students would be addressed by this body. They were not.”
The vote took place after almost an hour of presentations and discussions about the proposal. First, UC President Janet Napolitano discussed the changes made to the proposal since last year. She also gave chancellors from UCLA and UC Berkeley a chance to give presentations on how the extra revenue would be used to benefit the campus by boosting four-year graduation rates.
“We’ve spent the interim months amending the proposal to address the issues raised,” UC President Janet Napolitano said during the meeting. “It now calls for us to set aside 10% of the new tuition raise revenue for financial aid for needy domestic and international nonresident students.”
Napolitano also noted that the 2019–20 budget, approved in November, assumed that there would be an increase to the NRST, so not approving the raise would put a $30 million hole in the budget.
At the March Regents meeting, students and Regents raised concerns about how this would affect low-income students and undocumented students not considered California residents under AB 540—a bill that allows certain undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. This was the main topic of concern that caused the proposal to be tabled. UCOP introduced the 10% allocation to financial aid as a way to alleviate those concerns.
“I appreciate the amendments made to the proposal, I’m just personally not convinced that they address all the issues,” said UC Student Regent-designate and UCSD graduate student Hayley Weddle. “A 10% allocation for financial aid doesn’t seem like it would alleviate the burden of food and housing insecurity that we already have data to show nonresident students are currently experiencing. I also don’t see an explicit solution outlined in the proposal for non-AB 540 undocumented students. I don’t have a vote on this board, but I urge the folks who do to vote no.”
According to the proposal, UCOP does not believe that many undocumented students will be affected because “these students would have to finance the entire nonresident cost of attendance (which exceeds $60,000, including room and board) each year for the duration of their enrollment using their own financial resources and/or private scholarships.”
“It is shameful that students like myself and the student leaders who went with me to San Francisco to the Regents meeting…had to miss school in order to try to inspire the Regents to do their jobs,” UCSD student Liz Niculescu, a second-year out-of-state student, told The Triton. “This tuition hike will be potentially devastating for out-of-state, international, and undocumented students.”
Additionally, the UC Board of Regents approved a tuition increase for UC Berkeley’s Master of Business Administration program, which passed with the opposition of Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis and Student Regent Devon Graves.
Ethan Edward Coston is the Managing Editor of The Triton. You can follow him @Ethan4Books.