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Regents OK tuition increase to boost student services

UC tuition increase regents

Credit: Elena Zhukova

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The University of California Board of Regents today (Jan. 26) approved the first tuition increase in seven years, saying that revenue would provide for academic improvements that are needed to accommodate rising California enrollment.

Two-thirds of California undergraduates will have the $282 annual tuition increase covered by financial aid. Those students will also be covered for a $54 increase in the student services fee that the regents approved for expanding mental health services.

“California students who currently receive financial aid will not pay the increases,” said UC President Janet Napolitano, in remarks Wednesday to the board. “Indeed, the financial aid awards for most of these students will rise by more than the amount of the increases, providing additional aid for expenses such as student housing, food and books.”

A third of the new tuition revenue will be used for student financial aid, while the other two-thirds will help cover the cost of hiring more faculty, improving support for graduate students and teaching assistance, and providing more student counseling and tutoring.

“The funds from both adjustments will directly benefit UC students,” Napolitano said. “More investment is needed to make sure that this generation and future generations of UC students receive the same quality of education as past generations.”

UC admitted 7,500 more undergraduates in fall 2016 than in 2015 — the largest one-year increase in enrollment since World War II. UC is on pace to add an additional 5,000 students over the next two years.

All that growth has created financial challenges that UC has been working to address through operational efficiencies that are saving the university more than $300 million a year in energy and procurement costs.  

But other cost-cutting measures threaten to erode academic quality. Student-teacher ratios have crept up, for example, and student services haven’t kept pace with enrollment growth.

Under the 2017–18 budget plan approved by the Board of Regents, new revenue from the state and from the modest increase in tuition will allow UC to address its most pressing needs while accommodating continued growth in California student enrollment.