UC Regents OKs Fee Increase, Students Protest Tuition Hikes
California News (KFSN) -- A UC Board of Regents Committee approved a plan to increase student fees by more than 30%. University of California officials say it's necessary to deal with a budget gap that could top one billion dollars by the next fiscal year.
Students at UC Merced are upset about the fee hikes, but they've been much less vocal about their frustration than students and staff at some other UC Campuses.
A chaotic scene surrounded the UCL.A. Building where the Board of Regents Committee met to vote on student fee hikes. Armed officers even arrested 14 protestors who refused to leave the meeting room.
Angry students, faculty, and staff members also gathered on the UC Berkeley campus to speak out against furloughs, proposed lay-offs, and the plan to increase tuition by 32% over the next two years.
UC Berkeley Grad Student Instructor Jessie Hock said, "I asked my students 'how many of you, by a show of hands, might not be able to come back if this goes through' and a lot of them raised their hands, and when you talk about strikes, students start crying in the classes because they can't afford it."
UC Merced students are also worried about affording tuition now that it's expected to top ten-thousand dollars. And they're concerned about the impact the fee hikes will have on many Valley high school students.
UC Merced Student Evonne Koo said, "It's already hard enough for them to get into college. So if you have fee increases, they're even less likely to want to go to college, so it's really a deterrent."
Spokesperson Patti Waid Istas says that's why UC Merced is trying to spread the word that 33% of the fee increase will actually help low and middle income students afford tuition. And the Regents Committee also just approved raising the income limit for a statewide financial aid plan.
Istas said, "If you come from a family with income of less than 70,000, all of the student fees are covered. You do not have to pay them."
But students who don't meet those requirements say they'll still be left to struggle.
Tiffany Villaluna said, "If they want to raise the prices, it should benefit everybody."
The full Board of Regents is set to vote on the fee hike plan Thursday.
education, sara sandrik
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