By Jocelyn Gecker, Associated Press
(AP) — The University of California's governing board will not be asked to vote on raising tuition at next month's meeting, so officials and students can continue lobbying for more state funding, UC President Janet Napolitano said Thursday.
A planned vote on the contentious topic is off the table for the UC Regents' May meeting, but officials cannot yet rule out the possibility of a tuition hike for the 2018-19 academic year if state funding is deemed insufficient.
"Raising tuition is always a last resort and one we take very seriously," Napolitano said in a statement. "Depending on the outcome of the budget negotiations in Sacramento, the university may, at a later date, consider the issue of a modest tuition increase for the 2018-19 academic year."
The UC Board of Regents was scheduled to consider a proposed increase of $342, or 2.7 percent, in annual tuition and fees for the 2018-19 academic year. California residents currently pay $12,630 in tuition and fees annually.
The regents separately approved a 3.5 percent, or $978, tuition hike for out-of-state undergraduates in March, saying, however, that increase would be rescinded if more state funding is obtained. The increase puts tuition and fees for out-of-state undergraduates at nearly $42,000 next year, more than triple what California residents pay.
UC officials say Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed state budget allocates a fraction of what the university system needs to maintain its quality of education at a time of record-high enrollment.
Brown proposed a 3 percent increase in base funding for the UC system in his 2018-19 budget plan, which was less than anticipated under a plan with the governor, UC officials say. Brown has urged university officials to "live within their means."
Napolitano said Thursday that the UC "appreciates the 3 percent increase" but its goal is to secure $140 million in additional state funds by the time the final budget is approved in June.
"Given the momentum of UC advocacy efforts, and a reported state budget surplus that is billions of dollars over projections, UC is hopeful that increased state funding will eliminate the need for a tuition increase," Napolitano said.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom called the UC's decision a "step in the right direction." Newsom, who is on the Board of Regents, was a vocal critic of the UC's initial plan to vote on a tuition increase before the Legislature wrapped up budget negotiations.
Earlier this month, California State University said it was abandoning a proposal to raise tuition at its 23 campuses for the 2018-19 school year. Cal State trustees had also been scheduled to discuss a proposed increase in May but Chancellor Timothy White said he was dropping the issue for at least a year in hopes of getting more state funding.