UC, Cal State approve fee hikes
Costs will climb at least 7% in the fall. The universities say the increases make up for shortfalls in funding.
By Larry Gordon and Richard C. Paddock
Times Staff Writers
March 15, 2007
University students will pay 10% more in fees at Cal State campuses in the fall and at least 7% more in the UC system to make up for what officials say are shortfalls in state funding.
The raises were approved Wednesday over the protests of students, who complained that charges have nearly doubled in a decade without regard to the escalating costs of textbooks and housing.4
But education leaders stressed that there was no fee hike last year and that the 23 Cal States and the 10 University of California campuses remain a bargain compared with other states' schools and especially compared with private colleges. They also said financial aid would cover extra costs for needy students.
The Cal State Board of Trustees, which met in Long Beach, voted to raise basic full-time undergraduate fees by $252, to an average of $3,451 for the year.
That overall figure will include $2,772 in universitywide fees and $679, on average, in campus-based charges. Room, board and books are extra. Cal State graduate fees would increase $312 to $3,414.
The UC Board of Regents, gathered at UCLA, raised fees 7% for most students. That amounts to $435 for undergraduates, who will pay an average of $7,347 in the next academic year, not including housing and books.
Most UC graduate students will pay $483 more, or an average of $9,481 before other costs. Fees will rise 10% at five UC law and business schools.
The moves affect a large swath of students: the Cal State system enrolls about 417,000 students and UC about 209,000. And not surprisingly, student reaction was angry.
The fee increase amounts to "the systematic destruction of our public education system," Payam Shahfari, a senior at Cal State Fullerton, told the trustees. A business management major, he said that those costs, along with books, parking permits and housing, were pushing out students and that financial aid was not keeping up.
At the UC meeting, dozens of students stood and raised their fists in a silent protest, then chanted "No fee increase now" as they left the meeting.
Administrators at both systems said their decisions were forced by fiscal shortfalls in Sacramento, and they pledged to roll back all or parts of the hikes if more money is appropriated by the Legislature and governor. Last year, proposals for 8% fee raises were canceled after the final state budget gave higher education extra funds.
Officials stress that no needy student will be denied an education because a third of the new fees charges will go toward financial aid.
About 146,000 of the 417,000 Cal State students will not pay any increase, said Allison Jones, assistant vice chancellor for student services and academic affairs. And UC said 43% of its undergraduates would not have to pay any of it.
The only Cal State trustee to vote against the fee plan was Melinda Guzman, a Sacramento-based attorney. She said she wanted the university to hire an outside consultant to examine all spending and revenue and determine whether the fee raise "is the best and only course of action."
But Roberta Achtenberg, chairwoman of the Cal State board, said the university could not wait if it were to keep all its programs alive and afford pay raises, including whatever contract emerges from the currently stalled talks with the faculty union.
"We need those resources, including student fees, to sustain an outstanding university," she said.
Several UC regents expressed frustration at the need to impose a significant fee hike this year. The UC board approved the increase by a vote of 13 to 6.
"It's the most agonizing decision the regents face," said UC President Robert C. Dynes, who recommended the hike and voted for it. "Nobody wants to raise fees."
"The reality is the system is under-funded," said regents board Chairman Richard Blum, a San Francisco investment manager and husband of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). He voted for the increase.
State officials say that many other states have shifted more of the cost of college to the students than California has.
Cal State says it charges about half of the average fees at 15 comparable universities nationwide. For example, the State University of New York at Albany set student fees at $6,727, and Georgia State University at $4,818 this year.
UC administrators point out that its undergraduate fees compare favorably with other public research institutions, such as the University of Virginia ($8,043 this year) and the University of Michigan ($9,723).
But student activists note that the cost of living in California is significantly higher, especially at urban campuses, and UC students pay more overall than public university students in other states. More students will have to work longer hours at jobs and borrow more, they say.
"The high fees, high financial aid model is not working. Students have to face this problem every day," said Bill Shiebler, president of the University of California Student Assn.
Still, no one denies that UC and Cal States are a bargain compared with the prices of many private colleges, where annual tuition next year is reaching about $35,000.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that he is keeping to his 2004 compact with the public universities that student fee increases would not exceed 10% any year and that enrollments could grow 2.5% a year.
Fees at California's community colleges went down last year to $20 from $26 a unit and would remain there next year if the governor's plans are upheld.
Wednesday's decisions were made at a time of tension between the Cal State administration and the faculty union. After a deadlock in contract negotiations, the two sides are awaiting a neutral fact-finding report. Meanwhile, the faculty union is voting on whether to authorize its leadership to call two-day rolling strikes if further talks fail to reach a contract.
Cal State faculty union President John Travis said the university should be able to fund professors' pay hikes without a student fee raise. Administrators say that would be impossible.
At the UC meeting in Westwood, the regents set a 10% fee hike for law schools at UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC Davis and business schools at UCLA and UC Berkeley. A higher fee was imposed on the five schools on the assumption that most students will earn high salaries after they graduate.
The increase, for example, will be $2,111 at the UC Davis law school, where basic fees will be $25,479 a year without housing. The largest of those jumps will be at UCLA's business school, where a hike of $2,346 will bring fees to $28,312.
Christopher Edley Jr., dean of Boalt Hall law school at UC Berkeley, had urged the regents to treat professional schools separately. Edley, who is seeking to restore the law school's national standing, also proposed a 16% fee hike for Boalt this year and for at least four more years.
The regents declined to impose a higher increase for Boalt but adopted a policy allowing professional schools to be treated differently, setting the stage for bigger hikes in the future.
Although the Hastings law school in San Francisco is part of the UC system, it is governed by an autonomous board and is not subject to the fee increase.
Gordon reported from Long Beach and Paddock from Westwood.
What they cost
The cost of Cal State and UC undergraduate programs compares favorably with some other public universities.
Annual fees, 2006-07
Cal State: $3,199
U. Florida: $3,330
National average*: $5,836
U. Washington: $5,985
U. Texas/ Austin: $7,630**
Note: Average tuition and fees for full-time students who are state residents
* Four-year public schools
** Liberal arts major