University of California students could end up paying higher tuition starting next year if regents approve an increase at their January meeting.
If approved, the first tuition increase in six years would likely amount to $300 or less per year for California residents, UC's chief financial officer Nathan Brostrom said at a regents committee meeting in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Currently, the average in-state tuition and fees paid by students at the nine-campus public university system is about $13,500 annually.
The tuition hike isn't sitting well with many students, however, and some attended the regents' financial and capital strategies meeting at the UCSF Mission Bay campus to voice their displeasure.
"Raising tuition shouldn't be our first option," said William Morrow, president of the Associated Students at University of California at Berkeley. "We should be working together to ask the state to fund higher education."
UC President Janet Napolitano tried to soften the news of possible tuition increases with what she described as her "affordability message."
She reminded those in attendance that 50 percent of in-state students receive enough financial aid to fully cover tuition, 75 percent "pay less than sticker price" when aid is taken into account, and roughly half graduate with no debt.
Still, UC officials said they expect enrollment to grow by an additional 10,000 in-state students over the next three years across the university system compared to the current amount, which will increase costs across the board.
With that in mind, what Brostrom called a "modest" tuition increase could help the university bridge a portion of an anticipated funding gap of $70 million in the 2017-18 budget, according to UC officials.
In addition, student services fees could increase by 5 percent annually.
So far, the regents have not seen an actual tuition increase proposal, which will have to be drafted and presented to the board at its January meeting.
The regents will further discuss the budget and any possible tuition hike at its full board meeting in San Francisco on Thursday.
In addition to the UC system's possible tuition hike, the California State University system is also mulling an increase.
A proposal the CSU chancellor presented to student associations at the 23-campus system in September stated, "The potential tuition increase, not-to-exceed $270 per resident undergraduate student, would take the annual tuition price from $5,472 per student to $5,742."
The increase could generate roughly $77.7 million next year when added to possible tuition hikes for out-of-state, graduate, doctoral and teacher credential program students.
CSU trustees will vote on the increases at their Jan. 31 meeting.
-- Bay City News Service