Higher education should not come at a higher price

Higher education should not come at a higher price

Photo Credits: CAITLYN SAMPLEY / AGGIE FILE

UC should take advantage of increased state funding

The Editorial Board denounces the tuition hike proposed by the UC Board of Regents. The two different proposals that the Regents are considering are: an increase in tuition for new and continuing students to account for inflation each year, and a cohort-based model in which student tuition and fees would be raised once by a greater percentage for each incoming class, or cohort. The former would raise tuition and fees for students by a projected increase of 2.8% to $12,918 for fall of 2020, while the latter would increase tuition and fees by approximately 4.8% to $13,176 for the first cohort of in-state undergraduates in 2020–21. Additionally, the Nonresident Supplemental Tuition would increase tuition for nonresident undergraduates by $840 under the first plan and by $1,440 under the second plan.

The proposal claims that these tuition hikes “would generate additional funding for student financial aid that would reduce the net cost of attendance for more than one-half of UC California resident undergraduates, resulting in less need for students to borrow or work to finance their education,” according to the discussion item from the Regents meeting on Wednesday. The Regents also claimed that these tuition hikes would “avoid the erosion in the quality of a UC education that would otherwise result if the University were to rely solely on available funding from the state and other sources.”

Neither option should be adopted. The UC shouldn’t rely on tuition increases to finance student financial aid. Both plans would impose a greater stress on students, forcing them to take out additional loans and accrue more debt. A college education shouldn’t be something that families struggle to pay for — the state should be the one to fund the future scientists, teachers and entrepreneurs.

Around two weeks prior to the Regents meeting, Governor Gavin Newsom released his state budget proposal for the 2020–21 fiscal year, which included an increase in UC funding — but funded by the state, not the students. His proposal included permanent funding for: student services, expanding enrollment and operations for UC medical schools, agricultural resources, research, medical education grants and immigrant legal services. It would also provide one-time funding for online degree and certificate completion programs, K-12 computer science educators and a grant program for animal shelters here at UC Davis.

Even with keeping the cohort-based increases at a flat rate for six years, it is still a substantial increase that many students will struggle to afford. Consequently, prospective applicants or students may reconsider enrolling at a UC. According to the Regents, “Tuition is the single largest driver of the amount of need-based grant assistance available to California resident undergraduates at UC,” so why would the UC propose a tuition increase? In order to account for inflation and offset the fact that the UC’s in-state tuition “has remained flat for seven of the last eight years,” the state should be providing funding. The UC needs to be more proactive about supplementing tuition costs by taking more concrete efforts to come up with alternative sources of revenue.

Other than UC President Janet Napolitano — who recommended that either of the two plans proposed by the Regents be approved, according to the Los Angeles Times — many others, including Chair of the Board of Regents John Pérez, were against the proposed tuition hikes. Pérez noted at a Regents meeting last year that he is “predisposed against voting for any tuition increase that impacts current students,” according to the LA Times.

Students’ educations are on the line, and they must be taken seriously. It is not acceptable that the Regents meetings take place where students are unlikely to protest, such as the UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center — the only UC without an undergraduate program. The proposed hike seems even more unwarranted, given the major funds Newsom has already poured into public education in addition to his recommended plan for the next fiscal year. The UC needs to consider the consequences of its actions, like when the UCPath payroll system implementation continued, despite its failure at several UC campuses that resulted in students not being paid. The UC needs to hear students’ voices when they say they can’t be placed further in debt. Students deserve better.
It is important to note that these tuition hikes proposed by the Regents is entirely separate from the ASUCD fee referendum. The ASUCD fee referendum is a basic needs and services referendum that would go toward maintaining the student services and jobs ASUCD currently provides, such as the CoHo, Unitrans, The Aggie and over a thousand total employees. Funds raised by this fee referendum would stay at UC Davis and directly benefit UC Davis students.

Written By: The Editorial Board