UCOP votes to table tuition hikes amidst coronavirus pandemic

The University of California Board of Regents postponed a vote on a proposed tuition increase for fall 2020. The decision to table the vote was announced at the monthly Board of Regents meeting held Wednesday, March 18, on a video conference via Zoom. 

John A. Perez, UC Regents board chairman announced the decision to postpone the vote after consultation with UC President Janet Napolitano, California Governor Gavin Newsom, the UC chancellors and others stating that it is not appropriate to move forward with the agenda item given all of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “In this moment of great uncertainty, adding a change that people couldn’t fully anticipate is not the right course of action,” stated Perez. The original vote schedule on Jan. 22, 2020, was pushed back after the regents failed to meet a 10-day public notice requirement to post details on proposed changes to systemwide tuition and fees charges. 

Under the proposal, tuition and fees would increase by inflation plus 2% for the incoming 2020-2021 class, which would likely translate to an increase of $348, and then by smaller amounts for the following classes through 2024-2025. 

The goals of the tuition increases are to sustain high-priority investments such as, accommodating larger incoming classes, student mental health resources, responsible compensation for faculty and “supporting the UC Riverside School of Medicine, which is helping to address the healthcare needs of the Inland Southern California region, which is facing the largest primary care physician shortage in the state,” as stated in the 2020-21 Budget Plan for Current Operations approved by the Regents in November 2019. The proposal also states that an increase in tuition would also increase students’ financial aid and Cal Grant awards, helping them cover expenses such as housing, food, books and supplies.

The proposal, however, has been met by opposition from students across the UC system as well as Governor Newsom, whose spokesperson said in a statement, “Given the major increase in higher education funding provided in last year’s budget and the similar increase proposed by Governor Newsom for next year’s budget, he believes that the proposed tuition increase is unwarranted, bad for students and inconsistent with our college affordability goals.” 

A new voting date has not been announced but the next UC Board of Regents meeting is scheduled for May 19-21.

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