By Jerika L.H
2015-2016 Public Policy reports indicate that the average per student state spending for UC and CSU has reached historical lows – just half of what it was in the year 2000. This deficit in per student spending has gone from $16,200 to $8,280 in the past sixteen years. The 54% decline in student allocations correlates with a rise in student loan debt, which is currently at a UC average of $20,210.
UC tuition is presently at $13,456, making it “the largest single source of core operating funds.” Students contributions comprise $3 billion in tuition and fees, while the state comes in below that at $2.38 billion.
Ironically, the University of California enjoyed free tuition for almost a hundred years since its 1868 inception. The founding charter states: “For the time being, an admission fee and rates of tuition such as the Board of Regents shall deem expedient may be required of each pupil; and as soon as the income of the University shall permit, admission and tuition shall be free to all residents of the state.”
Nominal fees were introduced in the 1950s, when in-state tuition was capped at $86. Tuition rose to $300 in 1968 and then dropped to $150 in 1970. Rates quadrupled in the late 70s, and then doubled again in the 80s at $1,296. By the early 2000s, tuition was set at $3,086.
Given the current rate, this past decade has experienced a 220% increase in tuition from the decade prior. The astronomical rise in tuition fees coupled with slashed state spending has resulted in difficult financial standings for students. The current statistics on student debt in the U.S is 1.2 trillion dollars, with 7 million students in default of their loans.
Yet, not everyone is suffering from the onset of austerity policies in education. $41.3 billion in profit is made annually off student loans.
In addition, the UC has experienced an unprecedented expansion of its administration, which has more than tripled since the year 2000. The number of faculty has only slightly increased despite a boom in enrolled students.
In that same vein, more administration means more administrative spending, as well as more employees under the purview of the Chancellors – a key point which allows the UC Regents to increase Chancellor salaries, which have reached all-time highs in recent years.
Newer Chancellors are now making up to double what their direct predecessors were making just years before them. In fact, the discrepancy in Chancellor pay is what prompted UC Regents to approve a 20% increase in Chancellor salaries in 2014, despite numerous cuts to faculty payrolls.
The Regents called this increase a measure to “correcting injustices,” despite the fact that all the UC Chancellors fall within the top 1% of national earners while many faculty members are struggling to get by under current wages.
Janet Napolitano noted that the pay increases were justified under the grounds that UC was willing to pay for “world class leadership”– a comment that is now being called into question amidst Chancellor Katehi’s current ethical scandal.