Another Look at Tuition Hikes

Let’s start with the basics: the decision to increase tuition is now in the hands of the (popularly elected) California Governor and Legislature. The quicker students and other stakeholders remove pressure from the Regents and concentrate it upon the Governor and Legislature, the quicker we can make progress towards freezing tuition.

Now for background:

Last week, the Regents of the University of California approved a 5% per year increase in tuition, if the state increases funding to the University at 4% per year. If the state raises funding at 7.3% per year, tuition remains frozen. Jerry Brown, in a move that can only be described as a teenage temper tantrum, threatened to “withhold the 4 percent increase if the regents went ahead with raising tuition.”

Since then, a lot of people have said a lot of not very nice things about the Regents, and specifically about UC President Janet Napolitano. An LA Times commentator put it this way:

“Caught in the middle are the UC students who are being held hostage by Napolitano and the UC Board of Regents in their demand for significantly more state money.

“Pay the ransom, UC is telling Sacramento, or we’ll hit the kids with higher tuition.”

While the analysis is correct, we must also remember that Jerry Brown put students in a very similar situation with Prop 30 in 2012. In fact, I would argue that Prop 30 was worse than the Regents’ current gambit. Had Prop 30 failed, funding to the UC system would have gone down, yet Prop 30 passing did not increase funding to the UCs. 

The Regents are trying to get more money into the UC system. We ought to be making it clear to our elected leaders that we want this money and we want it from the state, not from students.


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