Students attending UC Merced and other UC campuses could see more tuition increases over the next four years.
That distinct possibility emerged under a multi-year budget plan the Board of Regents discussed Thursday during its meeting at the UC San Francisco Mission Bay campus.
UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland was among three chancellors who spoke to the board about the importance of installing a multi-year budget plan for the UC system and its campuses.
It’s projected that the UC system will face an additional $2.5 billion budget shortfall in four years, during its 2015-16 fiscal year, said Steven Montiel, spokesman with the UC Office of the President. About $1 billion of that is projected to come from statewide revenue generating measures, but an additional $1.5 billion would be needed from a combination of state funds and student tuition and fees, according to documents.
“We are trying to come up with ways to deal with the shortfall,” Montiel said, adding that the multi-year concept isn’t yet a firm proposal, but rather a framework for discussion.
There are three scenarios included in the multi-year budget plan in which students would face an 8 percent, 12 percent or 16 percent increase in tuition for the next four years, beginning in 2011-13 year and through 2015-16. With a 16 percent increase, tuition would go up to $22,000, said Nathan Brostrom, UC executive vice president for business operations.
Leland, who supports the discussion of having some sort of plan that provides funding stability, told the board that without a long-term plan and funding strategy, it would be hard for UC Merced to continue to develop itself into a world-class research university.
UC Merced must further its academic and research programs and continue to work toward areas of national distinction for it to become a distinguished university, she said. But budget uncertainties complicate planning for the future.
The instability and uncertainty in state funding have presented several challenges to the various UC campuses, including not being able to hire tenure faculty, improving facilities and investing in technology, among others, Brostrom said. “All of these funding decisions need the university to make long-term decisions,” he told the board. “Our first effort is to try to minimize the gap as much as we can.”
Regent David Crane said the plan is to use the strategy to put pressure on the legislature. “This is war,” he said. “The battle is always between higher education and corrections.”
However, Regent Richard Blum, the husband of Sen. Diane Feinstein, said, “I have no faith in Sacramento to ever do the right thing.”
Regent Chairwoman Sherry Lansing said the scenario that the board is considering isn’t what they want. She asked what the board could do to change the dynamics. “I know what the worst-case scenario is, but I don’t want to accept it,” she said. “This is a movement to save the university and not to put it on the back of the students.”
If any of the three scenarios were to be approved, the most affected would be students coming from middle-class families. “I do think we are squeezing out the middle-class,” UC President Mark Yudof said.
Lt. Gov. and ex officio Regent Gavin Newsom said he didn’t like the proposals, especially balancing the budget gap on the back of students.
The plan will come back for discussion at the November meeting, Montiel said.
Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209)385-2482, or firstname.lastname@example.org.