Tuition Stability Plan — Frequently asked questions

The University of California Board of Regents approved a multiyear Tuition Stability Plan on July 22, 2021. The plan helps students and families budget for a UC education by keeping systemwide tuition and fees stable and predictable and providing new resources for financial aid.

Beginning fall 2022, tuition will be adjusted for each incoming undergraduate class but will subsequently remain flat until the student graduates, for up to six years. For undergraduates who first enrolled in fall 2021 or earlier — including all current undergraduates — tuition will stay flat at current rates for the duration of their enrollment, up to six years.

For graduate students, tuition for new and continuing students will be adjusted annually based on inflation, remaining essentially flat in constant dollars. No increase will occur until fall 2022.

The plan will be up for reauthorization by the Board of Regents in five years.

The plan provides unprecedented predictability for families in helping to manage their educational costs while allowing the University to provide greater financial aid for the majority of UC’s lowest income students, preserve the excellence of its academic and research programs, and expand enrollment of California students.

This FAQ provides more details about the Tuition Stability Plan.


What is the Tuition Stability Plan?

It is a multiyear plan starting fall 2022 that sets tuition and other mandatory systemwide fees for undergraduates, both freshmen and transfer students, at the time of enrollment, with the expectation that those charges should remain at that same level each following year for the duration of their college careers, up to six academic years. For graduate students, tuition for new and continuing students will be set annually but will rise no faster than inflation, essentially remaining flat in constant dollars.

What charges are included in the Tuition Stability Plan?

The Tuition Stability Plan includes Tuition, the Student Services Fee and undergraduate Nonresident Supplemental Tuition.

Does the Tuition Stability Plan apply to both freshmen and transfer students?

Yes. Both incoming freshmen and transfer students who attend UC fall 2022 and beyond can assume that their base Tuition, Student Services Fee and Nonresident Supplemental Tuition levels (if applicable) should remain the same for up to six academic years.

Does the plan guarantee that tuition will not change during that six-year period?

Students and families can plan on the same systemwide charges for up to six academic years. Although this plan is not a guarantee, and the UC Board of Regents retain the ability to modify all student charges at any time, adjusting systemwide charges requires an action by Regents that likely would take place only under extraordinary circumstances, such as a sudden, significant shortfall in state support.

Does the plan apply to undergraduate students from outside California?

Yes. Undergraduate Nonresident Supplemental Tuition is included in the systemwide charges that are expected to stay the same once a student enrolls, for up to six academic years.

What about graduate students?

Under the plan for graduate students approved by the Regents, adjustments to base Tuition and the Student Services Fee will increase by the rate of inflation, or roughly 3 percent per year, starting in fall 2022. Their tuition and fees will essentially remain flat in constant dollars. Graduate students with qualifying appointments as research or teaching assistants can expect to have these costs fully covered.

How does the plan help families with college costs?

By minimizing unexpected increases in tuition and reducing uncertainty about the cost of their education, students and families are able to better calculate and plan for the costs of attending UC.

More than half of current California resident undergraduates (55 percent) have all their UC tuition and fees fully covered by grants and scholarships. This plan will allow UC to provide even more financial support to its low-income undergraduates for food, books and other necessities.

For other families, the plan provides assurance that UC will be able to continue to provide the same world-class education it always has while enrolling a growing number of California students and making the University accessible to students from all backgrounds and economic means.

How will costs change for incoming freshmen and transfer students in fall 2022?

Systemwide tuition for undergraduates who start at UC in the 2022-23 academic year will cost about $534 more than UC’s current systemwide tuition and fees. That’s a 4.2 percent increase. That cost is expected to remain constant until a student graduates, for up to six years.

How will the costs for subsequent incoming classes be determined?

The tuition increase for undergraduates who enter UC in fall 2022 will be set at the rate of inflation plus 2 percent. Additional increases for each subsequent class will taper off by fall 2026 to just the rate of inflation. The plan pins inflation to a three-year rolling average of the California Consumer Price Index, and overall increases (a portion of which is inflation) under the proposal will be capped at 5 percent unless changed by the Board of Regents. The plan will be up for reauthorization by the Board in July 2026. Any changes would be expected to apply to the subsequent academic year, 2027-28.

You can find more information on the plan here: https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/july21/b1.pdf

Why is UC changing its tuition structure?

Campuses rely on tuition, as well as state funding support, to provide the people, services and facilities critical to offering a world-class education and serving large numbers of students from all walks of life.

The University of California has raised tuition only once in the last 10 years, by about $300. At the same time, the University has and continues to enroll a growing number of California students. UC has added more than 19,000 California undergraduates since fall 2015.

Recent proposed increases in state support have addressed some of the University’s needs, but they have not fully kept pace with enrollment growth and other rising expenses. As a result, the University faces a growing budget shortfall that could limit its ability to serve students and sustain its world-class academic and research facilities.

A multiyear plan, with moderate and predictable adjustments to student tuition and fees, will help UC address its critical needs while providing costs that are manageable to families.

How will the funds be used?

The single biggest allocation of new tuition revenue will go toward financial aid for California undergraduates and graduate students who need it most.

The remaining revenue will enable the University to expand enrollment, reduce class sizes, hire faculty, enhance student support services, and upgrade instructional equipment, classrooms, laboratories and other facilities at all 10 campuses. Each of these investments are important to the student experience and UC’s efforts to provide students with a world-class education.

For California undergraduates, UC will direct 45 percent of all new base tuition revenues toward lower- and middle-income California undergraduates, an increase from the current 33 percent. For students in graduate professional degree programs, the amount of new base tuition directed to financial aid will increase to 40 percent from the current 33 percent.

Why can’t UC find the money somewhere else?

UC is working to increase alternative sources of revenue, including donations and funds from commercializing its research discoveries. However, none of these sources are sufficient to meet UC’s rising costs for personnel, retiree benefits, utilities, deferred maintenance and health care. Campuses have also made extraordinary efforts to cut costs.

For example, UC has leveraged its purchasing power as a 10-campus system to drive down the cost of goods and services. Individual campuses have also consolidated and standardized administrative services; expanded the use of online courses where possible; and utilized innovative approaches to accommodate enrollment growth.

Even with these efforts, campuses require additional resources to preserve their academic and research excellence. For example, campuses have had to forego hiring more faculty and student counselors in order to cover urgent deferred maintenance needs instead.

The Tuition Stability Plan — in conjunction with predictable increases in state support — would provide much-needed resources to UC campuses while also improving UC affordability for financially needy California undergraduates.

 

How the plan affects current and incoming undergraduates


I’m a current or incoming fall 2021 undergraduate. Will my tuition go up under this plan?

No. Undergraduate students who enroll before the 2022-23 academic year will see no increase to their systemwide tuition and fees. Some campuses have additional fees that are not covered by the Tuition Stability Plan, and those are subject to change for both new and continuing students.

Can undergraduates who enroll by Fall 2021 count on their tuition remaining flat for six years?

Although this plan is not a guarantee, systemwide tuition and fees for current and incoming fall 2021 undergraduates will not change, unless another vote by the UC Board of Regents takes place. Such a vote is highly unlikely and would only happen under extraordinary circumstances, such as a sudden, significant shortfall in state support.

 

How the plan affects prospective and future students


I am planning to apply to UC for fall 2022 or later. How does this affect me?

Incoming California undergraduates for fall 2022 will pay $534 (4.2 percent) more in tuition and fees, but that cost will remain constant until they graduate, for up to six years.

There will also be modest increases for new incoming classes in subsequent years. The plan pins inflation to a three-year rolling average of the California Consumer Price Index, and overall increases (a portion of which is inflation) under the proposal will be capped at 5 percent unless changed by the Board of Regents. The plan will be up for reauthorization by the Board in July 2026. Any changes would be expected to apply to the subsequent academic year, 2027-28.

For students who qualify for financial aid, most or all of these increases will be fully covered by increases in aid.

You can find more information on the plan here: https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/july21/b1.pdf

Is my undergraduate tuition level guaranteed for all six years?

You and your family can plan on the same systemwide charges for up to six academic years. Although this plan is not a guarantee, and the Regents retain the ability to modify all student charges at any time, adjusting systemwide charges requires an action by the UC Board of Regents that likely would only take place under extraordinary circumstances, such as a sudden, significant shortfall in state support.

How will this affect my financial aid?

The Tuition Stability Plan does not change who qualifies for aid. In fact, the plan is expected to generate more funding to allocate to financial aid, enabling support that will actually lower the total cost of attendance for many students who need it most.

More than half of all California undergraduates at UC have their tuition and fees fully covered by need-based and UC grants. Aid will continue to cover the full cost for qualified students and may even provide for further assistance to help cover other expenses, such as food, housing, books and supplies. Even families who qualify for partial aid are likely to benefit from the additional financial aid funding generated by the plan.

For those families who do not qualify for aid, the stability of the plan will help manage costs and minimize unexpected increases. You can also apply for scholarships, grants and federal student loans. Get in touch with your campus financial aid office to learn more about these options.

Does this mean that students’ financial aid is guaranteed for six years?

No. The Tuition Stability Plan only sets tuition levels. However, UC’s low-income students typically have very stable financial aid packages from year to year. Nothing about the Tuition Stability Plan changes UC’s commitment to affordability, its robust financial aid programs or any individual student’s eligibility for financial aid.

How will students and families know their tuition level?

Each year, the University will publish its base Tuition, Student Services Fee and Nonresident Supplemental Tuition levels on the UC Admissions website.

Look on the admissions site to learn about the tuition, fees and other expected costs (such as meals, books and housing) for the incoming class year to which you are applying as well as financial aid that may be available to you. More than 55 percent of UC’s California resident students have their tuition and fees fully covered while roughly three-quarters receive some aid, so don’t forget to apply!

What happens if an undergraduate student takes a term off?

The University understands that students face challenges that could mean they need to take time off, which is why the Tuition Stability Plan extends for six academic years. If you need to take time off, you can still expect the same tuition and fee levels if you return within that six-year window. The term away, however, will count toward your six-year duration.

Do I need to be in good academic standing to keep my tuition level?

As long as you are in good enough academic standing to continue to enroll, you can expect to benefit from the Tuition Stability Plan.

Do I need to be enrolled full-time?

The University typically expects students to enroll full-time. The Tuition Stability Plan changes nothing about that. Enrolling part-time would continue to count against your six years.

Is the Tuition Stability Plan the same for transfer students? Do transfers still have six years?

Yes. Transfer students can retain their Tuition Stability Plan rates for six academic years once they enroll at UC.

What if I defer my enrollment?

A student’s tuition and fee level will be based upon the academic year of the term in which the student first enrolls as an undergraduate. If you were admitted to enroll in academic year 2022-23, for example, and then received approval to defer your enrollment to academic year 2023-24, you would be assessed the Tuition, Student Services Fee and Nonresident Supplemental Tuition rates (if applicable) that apply to incoming undergraduate students in 2023-24. And you could retain those rates for six academic years.

Why are you setting a six-year timeframe for the same tuition? Does that encourage students to take longer than four years to graduate?

No. Most UC students graduate within four years, but some take a bit more time. The Tuition Stability Plan is unlikely to change that pattern because students already have strong incentives to graduate and enter the workforce as quickly as possible. Other colleges and universities have implemented stable tuition programs without seeing changes to student retention or time to graduation.