UC San Diego students protest proposed tuition hike - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

UC San Diego students protest proposed tuition hike

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Students at UC San Diego and other UC campuses across the state will have their eyes on San Francisco Wednesday, where the university system's Board of Regents is scheduled to begin considering a proposal to hike tuition by 5 percent a year over the next five years.

The proposal has been met with outrage by students, many of whom took part in campus marches Tuesday. At UCSD, students staged a sit-in in front of Geisel Library as part of the "Day of Action Against the UC Tuition Plan."

Under the proposal, in-state students would pay $612 more for the 2015-16 school year, or $12,804. Out-of-state students would pay the same increased rate, plus a non-resident fee of $22,878, which would also increase by the same percentage, according to UC.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, who is a member of the Board of Regents, is among those sympathizing with the students. In a statement, Atkins said she would reject the proposal Wednesday and instead suggest that the university system receive an additional $50 million from the state's general fund.

"The proposed fee increase of more than 25 percent is unacceptable -- California students and their families have faced too many fee increases already," Atkins said. "Instead, UC should work with the Legislature and Governor to get UC the money it needs to remain one of the state's world-class assets, without harming the California students and families."

Atkins also planned to ask that out-of-state tuition be raised, an enrollment cap be placed on out-of-state students, the number of Cal Grants be increased for lower income families, and pension reforms be implemented for new UC employees.

Gov. Jerry Brown also opposes the proposed hike, as does Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, an ex-officio regent, and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, a former member of the UC Board of Regents and California State University trustee.

Garamendi said the current proposal, combined with other recent draconian tuition increases, would "take us backwards."

"When we price students out of an education, we rob them of an opportunity to reach their full potential," Garamendi said.

"I've met families who scrapped everything they could afford to send their first child to college, only to see the siblings denied their chance at their American dream," he said. "There is no greater cure to poverty than a good education. There's no easier way to tank an economy than to make a great state's universities inaccessible."

UC officials maintain the hike is necessary to help recruit more in-state students, offset salaries, which are on average $116,000 for faculty, and higher pension costs.

Opponents of the plan contend the UC system dug itself into a hole by suspending member contributions into its pension fund and failing to enact reforms to the system's defined-benefit plans until unfunded liabilities had swelled -- now totaling $7.2 billion.

This year, the UC system will pay an estimated $1.3 billion into the pension fund. UC Chief Financial Officer Nathan Brostrom told one newspaper that if the state would cover a third of that, tuition hikes wouldn't be on the table now.

UC President Janet Napolitano said tuition rates have been frozen for three years, and higher state funding could lessen the need for tuition increases.

"The investment per student by the state to the University of California is much lower than it has been in decades," she said.

According to the California Department of Finance, the UC system's general fund allocation was upped this year, and how to appropriate revenue is left to the board's discretion.

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