University of California President Janet Napolitano announced yesterday the UC tuition hike would be postponed. Students taking courses at a UC campus this summer will not see an increase in tuition. “We are doing this as a good faith gesture, optimistic that the ongoing negotiations will bear fruit,” said Napolitano at a speaking engagement at the University of Southern California. While there will be no tuition hikes this summer, tuition increases are still on the table for fall 2015.
In November, the UC Board of Regents approved a tuition hike of up to five percent every year for the next five years. The vote to approve the tuition hike was 14-7 with Gov. Jerry Brown and the student regent, among others, voting against the hike. Following the vote, UC students throughout the state protested the hikes with marches and sit-ins.
Lawmakers in Sacramento have also been concerned with the UC tuition hikes. State Senate President Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) introduced SB 15 to, among other things to help California students afford college, stop the hikes. This week in Sacramento, an Assembly subcommittee is holding a UC Budget Hearing. In an article special to the Sacramento Bee, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly member Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) said they would be applying a “zero-based budget approach.” According to Atkins and Olsen, “every line item of an organization’s budget must be approved, rather than only changes from the previous year.”
Napolitano and Gov. Jerry Brown have been at odds about the tuition increases. Napolitano has said increases are needed to keep the UC as a world-class institution. Gov. Brown argued the UC needs to scrutinize spending patterns and make cuts. The governor’s budget proposal for the 2015-16 fiscal year would withhold $120 million from the UC if the tuition increases went forward. Napolitano and Brown have been meeting privately to discuss UC costs and spending.
“Because these discussions are still ongoing, and because the legislature is still at work putting together the state budget, I am announcing here today that UC will not implement a previously approved tuition increase of up to five percent for the summer quarter,” Napolitano said at the event. “It is our conviction that all parties engaged in these negotiations want tuition to be as low as possible, and as predictable as possible. Moreover, as a matter of fairness, we want potential summer quarter students to enroll free from any uncertainty and unpredictability inherent in a fluid and still unresolved budget situation.”
Assembly Speaker Atkins praised the postponed tuition hikes. In a written statement she said, “I am pleased President Napolitano is beginning to walk back UC’s reliance on fee increases. With the Assembly beginning our top-to-bottom review of UC’s budget today, I am sure we will be able to identify savings, as well as increased state funding, that will help ensure UC remains a world-class treasure.”