UC president Janet Napolitano said earlier this month that her system will have to raise tuition in the absence of additional state funding. Brown said he heard about the proposed increase from reporters, not from Napolitano.
Brown, as governor, has a vote on the board. He attended regents meetings on Wednesday and Thursday in San Francisco to voice his opposition to the tuition hikes, and earlier this week he appointed two new board members, including former California Assembly speaker John Perez , who share his opposition.
The proposed increases violate what the Brown administration says was an agreement to keep tuition flat in exchange for more state money. This year’s budget increases funding to the university systems by five percent, or $125 million, with increases of $119 million in the 2015-2016 school year and $124 million for the 2016-2017 school year planned.
Sacramento political observers saw the Perez appointment as a clear message that Brown is serious about using state money as leverage. The university system and Brown’s administration never made a formal agreement, but state officials point to Brown’s 2014-2015 budget summary, which says more state money is “contingent on the segments holding tuition flat at 2011-12 levels.”
“The conditions of our commitment have been clear from the outset,” said H.D. Palmer, deputy director of the California Department of Finance. A tuition hike, Palmer said, “is obviously something we’ll have to take into consideration.”
Brown’s administration also wants the two systems to reduce the amount of time it takes students to complete a degree and to increase the number of students who actually receive their degrees.
“As the state reinvests in higher education, it cannot fund the business-as-usual model of providing instruction at its higher education institutions,” Brown’s budget document says.
A year’s tuition is $12,192 in the University of California system and $5,472 in the California State University system. That’s about twice what a year’s tuition cost during the 2006-2007 school year and about four times what a year of college cost in the 2001-2002 school year. If Napolitano’s increase passes the board of regents, tuition would rise to an estimated $15,563 in the 2019-2020 school year.