UC Tuition Could Rise Sharply if Tax Measure Fails

By Terence Chea, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP)  — University of California students will likely face a steep midyear tuition increase if voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative.

Students protested tuition hikes among other grievances at demonstrations organized by Occupy Cal last year. (Tracey Taylor/Berkeleyside)

The 10-campus system will need to consider raising tuition by as much as 20 percent in January if the November ballot measure fails, according to documents posted online ahead of next week’s UC Board of Regents meeting. Under that scenario, in-state undergraduate tuition would rise by $2,472 to $14,664.

At their meeting in San Francisco, the regents are expected to vote on a measure to freeze tuition at 2011-2012 levels and endorse the governor’s initiative, which temporarily raises the sales tax and boosts the income tax on people who make more than $250,000 a year.

Under the recently adopted state budget for 2012-2013, state funding for the UC system would remain stable this fiscal year and increase by $125 million next year — if the university does not raise tuition and voters approve Brown’s tax measure.

But if the initiative doesn’t pass, the university system would face a midyear funding reduction of $250 million — and wouldn’t get the additional $125 million next year. That “trigger cut” would lower state funding of UC to $2.13 billion, compared with $3.26 billion in 2007-2008.

UC officials say the university would need to raise tuition by 20 percent if the entire budget shortfall was covered by a tuition increase alone. The system could raise tuition by a lesser amount if it finds other ways to raise revenue or cut costs.

“The stakes are pretty clear,” UC spokesman Steve Montiel said Tuesday. “If the initiative doesn’t pass, it would be a tough situation for the university and ultimately for the students.”

In recent years, UC has repeatedly raised tuition — and made deep cuts to campus services and academic programs — in response to sharp reductions in state funding. Students now pay nearly twice as much as they did five years ago.

The prospect of another sharp tuition hike should motivate students and other people who care about higher education to support the governor’s tax initiative, said Claudia Magana, president of the University of California Students Association.

The students association plans to ramp up efforts to register students to vote this fall, Magana said.

“We want to educate students on what this vote means,” she said. “We’ll be doing everything in our power to make sure that it does pass.”

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