UC students taking summer school this year can breathe a little easier knowing that tuition will not increase during their upcoming sessions. UC President Janet Napolitano announced last Wednesday that there will be no tuition hikes for the summer, as a “gesture of good faith” that her ongoing negotiations with Gov. Jerry Brown will lead to increased state appropriations for higher education.
Giving a lecture at the University of Southern California Rossier’s School of Education, Napolitano said that though tuition hikes were suspended for the summer, it is still a possibility for the fall term.
“We’re having serious discussions both with the governor and with the legislature,” Napolitano said after the lecture. “Those are underway so it seemed premature to go ahead and jump-start the tuition increase.”
As part of a two-person committee, Napolitano and Brown have been meeting privately to examine the UC’s finances with the goal of agreeing on the amount of state funding that the UC should receive. Discussions include potential cost-cutting measures such as increasing the number of online courses, which Brown continues to advocate. They are expected to release their findings in March.
“It is our conviction that all parties engaged in these negotiations want tuition to be as low as possible, and as predictable as possible,” Napolitano said as a way of allowing students to enroll in summer classes without being caught in the middle of an unresolved budget situation.
Back in November 2014, the UC announced plans to increase tuition up to 5 percent every year for five years unless $220 million in state funding was provided. Brown, on the other hand, only offered $120 million in his proposed 2015-16 state budget, with the funds being contingent upon the UC freezing tuition and capping out-of-state enrollment.
The prices of UC summer classes vary based on length of session and the number of units a student may be taking, yet the 5 percent increase would have still impacted the prices in the same way.
Many, such as State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, see this temporary suspension as a positive gesture.
Newsom went on to say that the UC’s decision to “U-turn on tuition hikes” was an overdue shift in the right direction. “The reality remains that the UC is on a collision course with the future — with or without more state spending — unless and until the institution’s leadership can address the university’s long term cost structure,” he said in a press release.
University of California Student Association President Jefferson Kuoch-Seng expressed that this was “only a first step” in a series of potentially meaningful negotiations, yet is disappointed that tuition increases are scheduled to occur in the fall for incoming freshmen and current students.
ASUCR Vice President of External Affairs Abraham Galvan held similar views, saying, “Napolitano says she is optimistic about her conversations with Governor Brown, but until students are included in these conversations in a meaningful way I don’t see how the outcomes can be as optimal as they could be for students, the university or the state.”
Though Napolitano has pumped the brakes on increasing summer tuition, many UC students have historically shied away from taking classes in the summer as it is often more expensive compared to any other academic term.