We Afford Excellence?
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Many have expressed concern that raising fees means more limited
access. On the other hand, there are those who point to UC as having
the lowest fees in comparison to its counterparts. What are your
thoughts on increasing student fees to address budget shortfalls?
Certainly there are many students who are going to be disadvantaged
in a situation such as the state is facing now. They may be in high
school, getting ready to graduate and planning to go to UCLA or
another school and all of a sudden the student fees are increased
significantly. You do the best you can as a parent trying to plan
for paying for your child’s college education, but in a difficult
economic time it feels as if we could lose an entire sector of students
who would have the potential to be successful at UC but, because
of the economic circumstances, instead have to make other choices.
Student fees are on the same roller coaster as the state
budget. It is that boom-or-bust question; when we’re doing
great, we put money into the system, and when we’re doing
poorly, we take money out and the UC makes up for it in part by
increasing student fees. It’s very hard on families in California
when that happens, and I wish there was a way to create a formula
so that student fees would go up when the economy goes up and go
down when the economy goes down.
It is crucial that we even out the boom-or-bust cycle that’s
resulted in very volatile funding for UC. It can be done by a regular
process of investment at the state level from the General Fund,
and it can also be done by putting in place a more systematic system
of fees that guarantees access to the university for students.
The mantra in higher education is gradual, moderate, predictable.
But as we saw in the early ’90s, fees more than doubled in
the UC system. The reality is that there’s really no gradual
or moderate predictability. Student fees should not be tied to economic
indicators unless government and higher-education leaders in this
state figure out some ways to restrict the urge to drastically raise
fees in bad times.