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Davis, California

Monday, May 27, 2024

Editorial: Fee hike waiting period

When the UC Board of Regents voted in November to raise student fees 32 percent – with part of the hike beginning spring quarter – students were justifiably angry.

It was the most aggressive move the regents have made in recent history. Past fee hikes were scheduled to begin at the start of the next academic year, and they were always much smaller than 32 percent. Students expressed their anger statewide, occupying buildings and holding rallies.

Sen. Jeff Denham (R-Merced) has proposed a bill that would prevent dramatic fee hikes like this in the future. Dubbed the Student Protection Act, it would require UC and CSU to cap their fee increases to 10 percent each year. It would also require a waiting period of 180 days before any fee hike could take effect.

Had Denham’s bill been law in 2009, the regents would have only been able to raise fees by 10 percent, and the increase wouldn’t have started until this summer.

The bill needs to pass.

It doesn’t matter whether your grandma is fully financing your education or you’re struggling to get by on Pell grants. When the bills go up, it takes time to rearrange finances and find new scholarships or new jobs. Students deserve the security of knowing their fees won’t be jacked up mid-year.

Moreover, the sheer size of this year’s fee hike for UC students means many students will drop out entirely. A 32 percent increase is too much for many to absorb in one year. Limiting fee increases to 10 percent would help students who are struggling financially stay in school. It would also force the regents to ration their fee increases more wisely.

It is unfortunate that some in the reform movement at UC Davis are rejecting this bill. Associate Professor Joshua Clover said the bill was “scandalously indifferent to actually funding public education.” It may be true that this bill doesn’t directly address the critical higher education funding issue, but its provisions are valuable and necessary nonetheless.

Let’s not let good become the enemy of perfect. We can and should support Denham’s bill and demand more concrete action from the state at the same time.


  1. The phrase was not used as the final opinion. It was used to illustrate the broader point, which is the last line: “We can and should support Denham’s bill AND demand more concrete action from the state at the same time.” I see your point Joshua, but right now a 32 percent fee increase is acceptable. I see reducing that level of acceptability to 10 percent as a good thing. But I also think there’s a whole lot more we need to do in order to make sure public education is actually affordable for all Californians.

  2. Hello. I myself would worry that “let’t not let the perfect be the enemy of the good” could be used to justify anything. It’s quite abstract and relative. What if we substituted in some concrete terms, like “let’s not let affordability be the enemy of unaffordability.” We see then that the formula isn’t very useful: of course our minimum demand should be for affordability. Vulnerable students already can’t afford the fee increases; do we really stand with them by supporting a bill that sets “acceptable” rates of increase far higher than inflation or average wage increases, both of which are currently slight or nonexistent? Why not set it at 20% or 50%? These too would succeed in not being “perfect.” But they would also not be “good,” which should have a concrete meaning: accessible to the poorest members of our community.

  3. I think it means the same thing either way. Regardless, it’s amusing that someone who (presumably) identifies with the protest movement is making snide comments about empty political cliches. Haha.

    Joe: Yudof’s emergency powers applied to faculty and staff furloughs, not student fees. The regents have free reign in terms of how much they want to raise fees. The very document that you referred to the, the Higher Education Compact, actually prescribes a 14 percent fee increase in 2004-05!

  4. I think you mean “let’t not let the perfect be the enemy of the good” (though I’m sure we’re all a bit relieved that the Aggie editorship hasn’t yet mastered their empty political clichés).

    The problem is that Denham’s bill doesn’t come close to good, much less perfect. Its cap of no more than 10% increases per year is not only a travesty of the California Master Plan for Public Education’s promise of tuition-free pubic education, but it’s HIGHER than the increases allowed by Compact for Higher Education, the current state policy (which was only circumvented by granting Yudof “emergency powers” — a maneuver that could also be used to get around Denham’s bill). This emperor has no clothes.

    This bill, in short, has no “good” element whatsoever. It’s worse than what’s already on the books; it enshrines higher costs for students; and it doesn’t fund education in the slightest. It is an attack on higher education. I encourage all students and campus members to actually read the bill and compare it both to current situations and to what you want for the university — something the Aggie editorial board has apparently neglected to do.


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