Debate underway on CSU & UC tuition increase proposals; students protesting
By Larry Gordon
Early skirmishes have begun already on tentative proposals to increase tuition at California’s two massive public university systems for the first time in six years. Serious debate and protests – likely to be bruising at points – are expected over the next few months as financial and political impacts are weighed.
With the state budget in flux, both the 23-campus California State University (CSU) and the 10-campus University of California (UC) say nothing is set in stone about ending the lengthy tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates. But administrators warn that rising costs of pay hikes and pension plans and such academic initiatives as improving graduation rates may force tuition hikes for fall 2017: as much as $270 or 5% at CSU from what is now $5,472 a year and $300 or about 2.5% at UC from the current $12,294.
Political observers predict a series of battles as the proposals proceed through the universities’ governing boards and the Legislature in hearings, votes and closed-door negotiations that are expected to start in January and possibly continue until June. Students and their parents will be watching closely on whether family budgets will wind up more strained and whether financial aid, which a majority of students now receive, will increase enough to ease the pain.
Much attention will be focused on whether Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2017-18 budget plan, which will be unveiled in early January and updated in May, will give the universities enough money so they can avoid tuition hikes. But given Brown’s abhorrence of deficits, some education officials are nervous about reports that tax revenues for the general state coffers are slowing down and that various policies that might be implemented by the incoming Trump administration could strain California’s relatively generous social benefits.
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