Education

UC proposes tuition hike, reduced pension benefits

Monday, November 08, 2010

It's not getting any cheaper to go to college in California. The University of California president is proposing another tuition hike on top of last year's increases. Berkeley undergrads are paying 70 percent more than they did in 2005. The educational fee was $2,700 a semester then, now it's $4,700.

"I didn't hear anything about that today. No, not at all -- $822?" said UC Berkeley student Keenan Evans.

On Monday night, ABC7 asked students on the UC Berkeley campus about the rumor that tuition could go up another 8 percent next year -- $822. It was tough to swallow for students already struggling.

"Right now I owe the school about $761 and that's stopping me from paying my December rent. So I was going to do a budget appeal for it, but now I've got to re-think things," said Evans.

The proposed fee hike could generate $180 million with a third of those funds going to expand financial aid to needy students. Last year students were stung when tuition went up 32 percent. A new hike is not likely to go over well and the university knows it.

"I think it's hard for them to fathom why the regents are going to have to pursue another fee increase, but again, when we take a look at our overall costs, we're dealing with a $1 billion gap within the university's budget. We've got to find a way to bridge that," said UC Budget Vice President Patrick Lenz.

"I'm not happy about it of course, but I think thoroughout the whole school everyone's kind of suffering for that and people are being laid off, we don't have enough staff, even for janitorial reasons and so, I mean, it affects everyone," said UC Berkeley student Angela Chen.

The university is also proposing changes to employee retirement benefits beginning with those hired on or before July 1, 2013. Under the new proposal maximum benefits would kick in at age 65 instead of 60.

"For some of my colleagues who have been here or are close to retirement age I think that could potentially mean that they will have to stay on longer so as to be able to reap the benefits," said Albert Luceri who retires next month.

The board of regents is expected to hear comments about the proposals next Thursday. UC students say they will protest any new fee hikes.

UC is not the only institution considering a hike in fees. Tuesday, the Cal State University system may raise spring tuition by 5 percent and 2011-2012 tuition by an additional 10 percent.

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