UC regents to vote on first tuition increase in 7 years

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The University of California's governing board plans to vote Thursday on a proposal that would raise tuition for the first time in seven years.

Many students have vocally opposed the increase, staging protests including one that briefly disrupted the last of Board of Regents meeting in November. Critics say the higher tuition would put too much burden on students already struggling to pay for their educations and force more students to drop out of college.

UC President Janet Napolitano says the increases are modest and needed to maintain the quality of the nation's largest public university system, where the student population has grown each year and state funding has been cut. Tuition has been frozen since 2011.

"More investment is needed to make sure this generation and future generations receive the same quality of education as past generations," Napolitano said at the meeting's opening session on Wednesday.

Napolitano's proposal calls to increase annual tuition by $282 and fees by $54 for the 2017-18 school year. California residents currently pay $12,294 a year, which would increase to $12,630 if the proposal is approved.

"We have done more with less, but at a cost," she said.

This fall, UC's 10 campuses enrolled 7,400 more California undergraduates than the previous year, marking the largest enrollment increase since World War II, Napolitano said. There are plans to add another 2,500 new students for the 2017-18 school year, and an additional 2,500 the following academic year.

The increased revenue would be used to hire more faculty, expand course offerings, build more dormitories, beef up tutoring and mental health services and provide more financial aid for undergraduates and fellowships for graduate students, Napolitano said.

Most students at University of California schools wouldn't be affected by the increase. Financial aid would cover the increases for two-thirds of the system's California undergraduate students, UC spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said.

Most of the financial burden would fall on out-of-state students who currently pay $38,976 per year, more than triple the amount of their in-state peers. A proposed increase of $1,688 would bring tuition and fees for non-residents next year to $40,644.

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