University Of California OKs 30 Percent Fee Hike

In Los Angeles, University of California regents adopted a 30-percent increase in tuition in the face of a huge system-wide deficit. The vote came as thousands of angry students converged on the UCLA campus in protest.

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

In Los Angeles, the UCLA campus looked like a scene from the '60s today. The University of California's Board of Regents met there to consider a big tuition increase, and thousands of angry students turned out to protest. Police in riot gear looked on. In spite of all the commotion, the tuition hike passed.

And NPR's Carrie Kahn joins us now from UCLA where she's been covering today's protest.

Carrie, we said it's a big tuition increase for the University of California, how big?

CARRIE KAHN: It is very big. It will be over $2,500. And it starts this academic year, kicks in in January. And then the bulk of it is next fall. So it's a big hike for students. It's going to be about 32 percent.

But the U.C. regents today said they had no other options. They are running out of money. Here's U.C. president Mark Yudof.

BLOCK: When you don't have any money, you don't have any money. And all the demonstrations, of all the talking, the words, this balances the budget and it stops the bleeding and it maintains the quality for our students.

SIEGEL: And when he says you don't have any money, he's talking about California's general financial problems?

KAHN: Yes. And the financial problems seemed to be getting worse. We just heard that there's a $21 billion budget deficit, which means that they're cutting even more funding to the U.C. system.

The regents also put in an application for a $900 million increase in funding for next year. They say if they don't get it, there'll have to be even more fee hikes, and they fear that they'll have to cut classes and reduce the incoming freshmen class. So it's just a bad situation.

U.C. president Mark Yudof said that it is lose-lose situation for students if they don't pay the fee hikes now. They're just going to have less class offerings next year.

SIEGEL: And these are fee hikes not just for UCLA but for the entire U.C. system?

KAHN: All 10 campuses, yes. They'll see an increase. And that means that an annual U.C. education will now be over $10,000 a year. And that doesn't include room, board or books. That's just fees and tuition. And so, you know, in the last decade that means a three-fold increase. So it is a big hike.

SIEGEL: Okay. Thank you, Carrie.

KAHN: You're welcome.

SIEGEL: It's NPR's Carrie Kahn reporting from Los Angeles on today's big tuition hike for the University of California system.

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