Following record growth in enrollment, the University of California announced plans and proposals to increase tuition for the coming academic year of 2016-2017, affecting some 200,000 students. The reasons behind such an increase revolve around accommodating more students with additional facilities and faculty. For this purpose, the tuition hike is expected to bring in around $90 million in additional revenue.
The announcement has been met with a typical response from students which has been followed up with a convincing argument from the University of California.
The new in-state tuition figure numbers around $12,000 for the upcoming year while the out-of-state tuition number should be around $27,000 (a 2.5% and 5% increase, respectively). When comparing the actual numbers, in-state undergraduates can expect to pay an extra $300 roughly while out-of-state undergrads have an extra $1,300 to worry about.
As mentioned earlier, the student body response can be typically characterized as an outcry of protest. The main claim centers on the difficulty of covering the overall cost of attendance in high standard of living areas where many of the West coast, University of California campuses are located. The argument is valid, but the rebuttal emphasizes the necessity of additional revenue in the face of growing enrollment.
Record levels of enrollment spurred the need for this tuition hike, so therefore, these increases are mainly for the benefit of the student body. More faculty employees are needed to reduce the disparity between students and teachers. Facility maintenance becomes more expensive. Living facilities need to be planned and built to accommodate future growth. On top of all this, a significant portion of the additional revenue will go into financial aid.
At the moment, nearly 33% of all tuition revenue goes towards financial aid, so an increase in tuition means an increase in financial aid. In some cases, a middle class UC student would receive enough financial aid to cover the proposed tuition increase. Despite how promising this is, it is not the case for every student.
Even though the state of California is renowned for higher education financial aid, the developments from the University of California are a far cry away from recent proposals in New York. Andrew Cuomo recently proposed eliminating tuition requirements at state colleges for residents with an income below $125k.
This may be the benchmark for the rest of the country to hope for, but in reality, a pivotal proposal faces such as the one in New York will face plenty of opposition. Many New York residents would be opposed to the expected increase in taxes. At the very least, the New York situation may set a precedent for either success of failure of such plans.
For the moment, University of California students have a tuition increase to look forward to. While the plans are not final, the decision seems to be an easy one to make. After all, rising enrollment is historically correlated with rising tuition.