By Terence Chea
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — University of California students could face significantly higher tuition if the state doesn’t increase funding and voters don’t approve the governor’s tax initiative, school administrators said Tuesday.
University officials are considering a plan to raise tuition by 6 percent this fall if the state doesn’t increase funding by $125 million for 2012-13, according to a document posted online ahead of next week’s UC Board of Regents meeting.
The 10-campus system would need to consider a mid-year tuition increase in the “range of double digits” — or make drastic campus programs and staffing — if voters don’t pass Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax plan in November, officials said.
“We’re at a critical stage at the university. The regents would face more draconian choices if the governor’s initiative fails,” Patrick Lenz, vice president for budget and capital resources, told the Associated Press in an interview.
Board members are scheduled to discuss various ways to raise revenue and cut costs when they meet in Sacramento on May 16. No action on tuition is expected until July.
If a 6 percent increase is approved, tuition for in-state undergraduates would rise $731 to $12,923, nearly double what students paid five years ago before the financial crisis began. That figure doesn’t include room, board or roughly $1,000 in campus fees.
“Short of an ability of the state to buy out a tuition increase, I’m not sure how we would avoid one,” Lenz said.
But Lenz said the university remains committed to providing financial aid to students from low- and middle-income families. Most UC students from families earning less than $80,000 a year pay no tuition.
The amount of the proposed tuition hike could change based on the state’s fluid budget situation, officials said.
The tuition scenarios are based on the 2012-2013 budget plan the governor released in January. Brown is scheduled to release a revised budget proposal based on new projections that state revenues have fallen about $3 billion below expectations.
Over the past four years, the state has slashed funding to California’s public universities and colleges to close yawning budget gaps caused by the financial crisis. The budget cuts have led to steep tuition hikes, course cutbacks, staff layoffs and rowdy student protests.
The UC and California State University systems each lost $750 million in state funding during the current fiscal year. That represents a roughly 20 percent cut for UC and 27 percent reduction for CSU.
Brown previously said UC and CSU would each lose an additional $200 million if his tax initiative is not approved. But the two systems could face even deeper cuts because the state’s budget deficit is much larger than previously projected, Lenz said.