The Associated Students of UC Riverside (ASUCR) and the UC Riverside Highlander newspaper staff have created Fix UC, a new financial aid model in which students will face no up-front costs to attend a UC. The financial model will be presented to the regents at UC Riverside on Jan. 18 and 19.
According to the model, after graduates have settled into a stable career, they would begin paying tuition back to the University of California at a rate of 5 percent of their income per year, for 20 years.
“Our funding proposal has many goals. At the very core, my team and I wanted to lead a statewide effort to rethink how we fund public higher education.” said Chris LoCascio, president of the Fix UC proposal. “We also hope that it will inspire the regents to pursue permanent solutions for the UC’s budget crisis that address its root problems, like unreliable funding from the state and rising tuition costs. Within the proposal, our goals were to eliminate all education-related financial burdens on students and their families, as well as provide a means of stable, predictable and permanent funding for the UC.”
The hope is that because tuition fees are based on salaries, students will not be forced into burdening financial situations. This would also relieve the University of California system from relying so heavily on the state for funding.
With multiple tuition hikes over the past few years, perhaps most notably 18 percent from the 2010-2011 school year, UC schools are not affordable for many qualified students.
“As a student, your income is not substantial enough to pay for the top-notch education that you would get at the University of California. This plan aims to alleviate that burden on students. No longer will students have to pay [an] insurmountable amount of money during their time in school. Rather, they would begin to pay the university for its services after they have graduated and are using the skills and knowledge they gained at the University,” said Alex Abelson, Fix UC Data and Statistical Analyst.
According to the Fix UC creators, the plan would decrease the financial pressure of loans, scholarships and financial aid agreements on students and families. Moving the time of payment to later in a student’s life would allow them to pay independently. Because the plan is for graduates to pay over the span of 20 years, the UC system would potentially be provided with a stable funding system. This could further alleviate its dependence on the state, which reduced $650 million from funding in 2011.
“It is very radical. It is something the students created, not something regents will adopt on Thursday. What we expect is that they at least consider it,” said Stephen Lee, ASUCR President and Fix UC Member.
The regents will be meeting at UC Riverside on Wednesday and Thursday.
“I know that they are troubled by tuition increases, and if we provide them with a model that avoids them while giving the UC the funding it needs, I can’t imagine they would pass up that opportunity,” said LoCascio. “They will have the chance to make an impact not just on the future of the University of California, but on public higher education across the world. The UC is already a pioneer in research and academia — it can also pioneer how higher education can be funded.”
DANIELLE HUDDLESTUN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.