University of California regents today voted to raise tuition by about $1,070, sending the total cost to $12,192 for the upcoming school year.
After a recently approved $650 million cut in state funding, UC regents said they had no choice but to raise tuition to close about a quarter of the system's $1 billion budget deficit. When combined with a previous hike, tuition will be 18 percent more -- about $1,890 -- in fall 2011 than it was in fall 2010. Each campus also charges undergraduates about $1,000 in additional fees.
Regents said they were unhappy about raising tuition but they felt compelled to do it to preserve UC's academic quality.
"To not support the faculty is totally irresponsible. We can't support the faculty unless we have these tuition increases," said Regent Richard Blum.
Four regents voted against the tuition increase: Eddie Island, Alfredo Mireles, George Marcus and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
"The biggest threat to our democracy is income inequality, the loss of the middle class," Newsom said. "And here we are once again, putting the nail in the coffin of the middle class. That's exactly who gets hurt in this debate."
UC grants cover tuition for students from families with incomes up to $80,000, and UC plans to pay the increase in tuition for one year for families earning up to $120,000.
The system is relying on budget cuts and fund transfers to close the rest of its budget gap. Many campuses have begun admitting more students from outside of California, for whom tuition is roughly three times as high as it is for state residents.
Regents also discussed other long-term solutions to the budget crunch, including charging international students higher rates, increasing online class offerings, being more aggressive about seeking private donations and consolidating some operations at each campus into one statewide office.
"These are things we are going to explore deeply when the campuses are ready, and we'll take a hard a look," said regent Sherry Lansing. "But they wouldn't help us today because they are long-term."
If state revenues during the next six months don't meet expectations, UC could lose another $100 million through "trigger" cuts. At students' request, UC regents put off discussing today how much they will increase tuition if the state cuts funding mid-year.
Laurel Rosenhall of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.