That top rate will be needed if state funding doesn’t grow to help offset costs, officials say. They call the proposal a guideline, but a student leader fears the increase will be locked in.

By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times
September 15, 2011

Reporting from San Francisco— University of California students could face annual tuition increases of 8% to 16% over the next four years, possibly bringing the fee as high as $22,068 for the 2015-16 school year, according to a long-term budget plan the university unveiled Wednesday.

UC leaders said that the proposal was intended only as a guideline but that it would help students, parents and faculty to plan more realistically. This summer, the state budget crisis resulted in deeper than expected cuts to UC and a second tuition increase just weeks before the school year began.

“We need stability. We need sustainability. We need to be able to honor our commitments to our students, our employees and certainly our faculty,” UC President Mark G. Yudof told the university’s regents, who were meeting in San Francisco.

The regents are expected to discuss the proposal Thursday but will not vote on it until November at the earliest. Even if it is endorsed, the board will still decide each year whether to raise tuition for the next year’s students.

UC will receive about $2.37 billion in state funding this year, $650 million less than last year. If the funding does not increase to help offset rising costs for pensions, healthcare, energy and salaries, 16% annual tuition hikes are likely, the plan says. If state funds rise 8% annually, tuition increases will be capped at 8%, rising over four years to $16,596, not including campus fees or room and board, the proposal projects. If state funding grows 4%, tuition would rise 12% annually, reaching $19,188 by 2015-16.

After back-to-back tuition boosts totaling more than $1,800 for this fall, UC’s undergraduate tuition for California residents stands at $12,192. Room, board and campus fees can bring a student’s total costs to about $31,000.

Student leaders and other critics said Wednesday they worried that the plan could give legislators an excuse not to increase funding to the university.

The result could be that four years of 16% tuition raises will be locked in, said Claudia Magana, the UC Santa Cruz student who is president of the systemwide UC Student Assn. “Rather than pressure the state, it could take pressure off,” she said.

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