Senate fights growing tuition fees for UCs and CSUs

By William Chamberlin
The Guardsman

Two Senate bills were heard on April 21 that directly combat future tuition fee increases in post-secondary schools.

Limits would be put on growing tuition hikes imposed every year at some California higher education institutions.

Neither of the new bills protect community colleges, as SB 1199 originally had. The tuition hike limits will only affect the UC and CSU systems. Public post-secondary education costs have been increasing over all three tiers of California campuses.

“We have never taken a position to support any fee increases,” City College Dean of Governmental Relations Leslie Smith said. “Our position will remain to support no increases.”

SB 1199 and SB 917 requires that student tuition fees cannot increase by a yearly percentage or set the maximum roof for increases to be 10 percent more that the previous academic year at UCs and CSUs.

“At present there is no statutory guiding policy on student fees beyond fiscal conditions and the stated needs,” according to background analysis in SB 1199 that was provided to the committee.

“Community colleges as a system have never supported a similar policy and we will fight to keep the fees low,” said Smith.

The community college level will continue to have no guiding policy. Current tuition per unit is $26 for resident students. California community college tuition was free until 1985 when it jumped to $5 per unit. It has increased 420 percent since then.

If legislation had been passed in 1985 to have a maximum cap on the tuition for students at 10 percent from the previous year, today City College students would be paying over $50 per unit, at a fixed 10 percent increase every year.

Sen. Leland Yee, who represents the 8th District, which include San Francisco and San Mateo counties, is co-author of SB 917. Yee aims to limit the UCs and CSUs power in the decisions and amounts to raise fees.

City College continues to stand behind its conviction to fight for no new increases. City College Board of Trustees Vice President John Rizzo wrote a special board resolution passed at the March 25 board meeting specifically opposing a recommendation by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office to increase community college rates to $40 per unit.

The guidelines of the trustee powers in raising tuition for CSUs and UCs may affect all students who are planning to transfer to those schools from the community college system.

“Increases may be inevitable, but they should be gradual and predictable,” said Los Angeles County Sen. Carol Liu in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.

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