University of California regents OK tuition increase

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The University of California on Thursday approved its first tuition increase in seven years.

The university system's Board of Regents voted 16-4 to raise tuition by 2.5 percent a year during its meeting in San Francisco. Fees were also increased.

The vote came after UC President Janet Napolitano called for the annual tuition increase of $282 and a fee hike of $54 for the 2017-18 school year. 

California residents currently pay $12,294 a year in tuition and fees. 

Many students have vocally opposed an increase. One of their protests briefly disrupted the previous Board of Regents meeting in November. 

Critics have said higher tuition puts too much burden on students already struggling to pay for their educations. 

Regent Charlene Zettel said she regrettably supported the increase.

"Every single one of us in this room doesn't want to raise tuition for our students," Zettel said. "It's very painful for all of us."

Regent Gavin Newsom voted against the proposal. 

"It is not insignificant to a lot of folks that will be burdened by it," he said.

Napolitano said hikes are needed to maintain quality on the 10 campuses that comprise the nation's largest public university system, where the student population has grown each year and state funding has been cut. Tuition has been frozen since 2011. 

The university enrolled 7,400 more California undergraduates last fall than the previous year, marking the largest enrollment increase since World War II. 

Napolitano said there are plans to add another 2,500 new students for the 2017-18 school year and 2,500 more the following academic year.