University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) students will pay more tuition for the 2017-18 school year. For the first time in six years, both the UC and CSU boards have approved tuition and fee increases. At the same time, Governor Jerry Brown proposes to phase out the state-sponsored Middle Class Scholarship program for students starting college for the first time in 2017-18.
As of February 2017, the Regents of the University of California will raise tuition 2.5%, or approximately $282 per student, in the 2017-18 school year. Concomitantly, CSU fees will increase approximately $270 per student, or 5%, in the 2017-18 school year. In both the CSU and UC systems, proposed fee hikes for student services will also add to total college costs, while subsidies are proposed to be eliminated.
Currently, the Middle Class Scholarship is awarded to families with $156,000 in income and household assets or less with a maximum of $1,641 for qualified CSU students and $3,688 for qualified UC students. Award amounts will not change for students currently enrolled at a UC or CSU students. Yet, for first time college students in 2017-18, if Governor Brown’s proposal is approved, California’s middle class families will potentially be liable for even greater out-of-pocket expenses for college.
Since the Great Recession of 2008, of which the US economy has yet to fully recover, California politicians have reduced $152 million in subsidies for higher education. With less state subsidies, students are shouldering greater responsibilities for college costs in the form of fees and raised tuition. In addition, stagnating middle class wages means families allocate a greater percentage of the total family budget toward higher education expenses, creating a more onerous financial obligation for many families. Moreover competition for admissions to college is increasing. CSU Trustees estimate turning away 30,000 qualified students for lack of funding in the 2016-17 school year.
Families and students should plan accordingly for tuition and fee increases, as well as decreased scholarship funds to subsidize costs of college. Given that Governor Brown cites an rising state deficit in California for the 2017 fiscal year, continued tuition and fee increases at both the UC and CSU campuses are likely in the foreseeable future.
For more information: Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2017