University of California Board of Regents postpones vote on proposed tuition increase

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The University of California Board of Regents has delayed a vote on a proposed tuition increase until May. 
The decision Wednesday came after students and other critics had urged the governing board not to rush to vote this week.
UC President Janet Napolitano said after hearing students' concerns, the governing body was "better advised to defer voting on this item until its May meeting."
The regents were scheduled to vote Wednesday on a proposal to raise tuition at the UC's 10 campuses for the second consecutive year. 
The proposal was to raise in-state tuition and fees by $342, or 2.7 percent, for the next academic year, putting the cost of tuition and fees for California residents at nearly $13,000.
Many students urged the regents to reject the proposal or at least delay their vote to allow more time to lobby the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown for additional state funding.

If approved, the cost for California residents who currently pay $12,630 in tuition and fees a year would increase to $12,972.

Out-of-state students would pay an additional $978, or an increase of 3.5 percent, bringing their total for annual tuition and fees to $28,992. The regents approved a similar increase last January, the first increase since 2011.

Nearly two dozen students delivered impassioned pleas to the regents saying higher tuition puts too much burden on students already struggling to pay for their education. They urged the regents to reject the proposal or at least delay their vote to allow more time to lobby the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown for additional state funding.

UC Berkeley student Kylie Murdock told the regents meeting in San Francisco that she comes from a middle-class family, receives no financial aid and her parents constantly worry whether they can afford college for her and three other siblings.

"$342 may seem like a drop in the bucket," she told the regents, but the cost of education is becoming "no longer affordable or accessible."

Murdock and others directed comments to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a UC regent and the front-runner to succeed Brown next year as governor. Murdock reminded Newsom that "students are a very large voting bloc."

Newsom opposes a tuition increase, saying it lets the Legislature off the hook and that it is "strategically short-sighted" to vote on a tuition increase before Sacramento begins budget discussions.

"I share the frustration of students and families who don't understand why another tuition increase is even up for consideration," Newsom said in a statement Wednesday.

UC officials say they were left with no choice but to propose an increase after Brown allotted less funding for California's public universities than expected in his 2018-19 budget proposal earlier this month.

Brown proposed a 3 percent increase in base funding for the UC system in his 2018-19 budget plan, down from a 4 percent increase in previous years. He also urged university officials to "live within their means."

The state budget will go through numerous revisions before a final vote is held in June.

UC President Janet Napolitano said the 3 percent increase is less than anticipated under a plan agreed to with the governor. She said in a statement that UC was committed to its plan to add 2,000 California undergraduates and 500 graduate students in fall 2018.

"The campuses have asked for this increase because they need it at a time when California undergraduate enrollment is at an all-time high," UC spokeswoman Claire Doan said. The additional revenue from tuition increases would go toward hiring more faculty members, creating new courses and funding additional mental health services, she said.

The UC Student Association said it has collected nearly 3,000 signatures in an online petition against the tuition hike, said student organizer Maxwell Lubin.

"For the UC to commit to a tuition hike before the UC budget is even set, makes no sense," said Lubin, a graduate student at UC Berkeley.