Students Protest Proposed Tuition Hike by UC

Last week the University of California proposed raising tuition and student services fees for state residents by 2.7 percent, an increase of $342 to a total of $12,972 for the 2018-19 school year.  The UC Board of Regents meets on Wednesday to consider this proposal, which would be the second consecutive tuition increase following a freeze for several years.

Out-of-state students would pay an additional $978 in tuition, bringing their total to $28,992.  The increases would generate roughly $137 million – money that would be used for things like more financial aid, enrollment growth, faculty, courses, graduate student fellowships, expanded mental health services, counseling and academic advising, technology upgrades, library support and building maintenance.

On Tuesday, at least 50 students gathered outside of the Memorial Union with speeches.  They then marched to Mrak Hall, chanting and protesting the chancellor.

“We are all here today because we are in jeopardy,” stated Tom, one of the organizers of the event.  “Our ability to get housing is in jeopardy.  Our very education is in jeopardy.  That means our very future is in jeopardy.”

Tom said the regents claim that the money is needed because of minimum wage increases. “But they have always had the money,” they countered.  A year ago Janet Napolitano was found by the state auditor “to have $175 million of your tuition money in a private account.”

“I was there when the state auditor said it was the worst display of corruption she had ever scene in her whole time in that position,” they continued.

A university spokesperson told the Vanguard in response to the tuition hikes and protests, “Unfortunately, Governor Brown’s budget proposal provides less to the UCs than was negotiated under the multi-year framework with the university agreed to in 2015.

“In the meantime, the cost of providing a quality education has continued to rise with growing demands for increased enrollment, more housing and learning spaces. These rising costs outweigh the slight increase from the state.”

The spokesperson continued, “Having said that, even with a tuition increase, the majority of UC Davis students–56 percent–have tuition and fees covered by gift aid. In addition, 41 percent of our undergraduate students are eligible for Pell Grants. We are committed to making sure our students have access to the highest quality of education with the least financial burden possible.”

Systemwide, 100,000 UC students of limited means will actually see about $100 increase in aid due to the tuition increase; families eligible for the CA middle class grant will see a 10-40 percent discount on the amount of the increase; and only families with incomes greater than $165K will pay the full $342 increase.

Students were not just concerned about the issue of tuition.  Several who spoke brought up the issue of housing.

As Tom stated, “When they don’t give us affordable housing and the chancellor gets a free mansion… on top of his $495,000 salary…”

For the protesters, the regents and chancellor do not care about the students.  “They see us as vehicles for profit,” Tom said.

They argued, “It doesn’t have to be that way.”  Tom talked about their father who went to community college for free, graduated from college with no debt, and “a farm boy from Kansas, became an electrical engineer.”  Tom said, “That’s when people believed in students.

“If we are the future, why are they saddling us with lifelong debt?” they asked.  “We have to take out loans to just pay for rent.”

Amara Miller is a graduate student at UC Davis and an officer with the UC Workers Union.  She has been on campus for 12 years, having come to UC Davis as an undergraduate.

She was a physics major as an undergrad from 2005 to 2009.  “Back then my tuition was literally a fraction of what you all are paying now,” she said.  “Across the time I have been in the UC system, I have seen tuition pretty much more than double.

“The UC Regents are not our friend, they consistently put their own interests first and they consistently try to line their own pockets with their positions,” she said.  “The UC System works because we work.  We do the work and the labor that keeps this university running and keeps them in good standing.  We are the ones that pay into their pockets, and we are the ones who keep this university going financially.  It is time for us to say no more tuition hikes.”

Ms. Miller added that the university “banks on the fact that you will not care that future generations of students will be paying more than you do now.  They count on the fact that you’re only here for two to five years depending on when you come in.

“They bank on the fact that you will only fight while you are here but you will not care about future students who have to pay more,” she said.

She pointed out that she was here fighting for the tuition freeze, but that most of the people around at that time are now gone.

Ms. Miller pointed out: “They’re raising fees while they’re concurrently raising administrative pay.”

Another student pointed out that the regents are voting at UC San Francisco on a tuition hike that affects undergraduate students.  He said because UCSF “is not an undergraduate school, there’s no space for undergraduate representation for this vote.  We have no voice.  Undergraduate students literally have no voice in controlling how our money is spent and what money we’re spending on this university.”

In a flyer handed out at the event, “While we students are told our tuition is rising because of increased expenses, inflation, and decreased state funding, this is only partially the case. A huge factor of this is how we have been increasing our administration and increasing their salaries.”

This has led to admin salaries “$2.5 million more than the maximum annual salary ranges for comparable state employees, auditors found,” the protesters claim, citing an LA Times article.

They argue: “We need to cut the admin salaries and amount of administrative positions in order to decrease the cost of tuition and increase the salaries of UC employees and student employees to a living wage.”

The students cite tuition hikes that have tripled costs since 2001.  They argue, “Combined with stagnant wages and significantly increased housing costs, we have forced students into egregious debt and even homelessness. Now the average student debt is $30,000. High tuition costs have made the university a privilege for the elite instead of a public right.”

Meanwhile they point out: “Our new chancellor, Gary May, receives $495,000 a year and a fully staffed mansion as chancellor, as well as over $300,000 from outside board positions on defense companies that profit off of prolonged war, stricter immigration laws, and increased defense spending, while students face debt and homelessness.”

They say, “It is clear that the UC has proved itself inadequate at operating for the students.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Keith O

    David, just yesterday you were saying that students would be a game changer in local elections and would vote to tax themselves.

    Students are more likely to vote for tax increases for services than the general population.

    But today you write an article about students protesting a tuition fee increase.  The extra tuition is close to the same tax that the city wants to charge them, $342 or “families eligible for the CA middle class grant will see a 10-40% discount on the amount of the increase”, so all in all it’s about the same fee but they are out walking the streets and protesting this hike.  So tell us again how students will vote to tax themselves because yesterday’s actions don’t seem to back your statement.

    1. David Greenwald

      So you think the largely progressive student population are going to vote against a parks and roads tax – okay. I don’t. But that’s largely a discussion for the other article, not this one.

          1. David Greenwald

            The optics here are horrific. Raise money on student tuition, increase salaries for top UC Admins. I thought the state was trying to outlaw them from doing that?

        1. Ken A

          The fees are going to keep going up and up to pay for the amazing UC pensions:

          “UC is handing out generous pensions, and students are paying the price with higher tuition”

          There is no way UC will have the money to pay everyone the pensions they promised including the current “5,400 UC retirees who received pensions over $100,000” last year, but they will try and make the Ponzi last longer with a a lot more tuition and fee increases


        2. Keith O

          The fees are going to keep going up and up to pay for the amazing UC pensions:

          The same can be said for our city budget, our taxes keep going up in part to pay for city employee retiree health and pension costs.

        3. Ken A

          We don’t need to talk about city pensions here but everyone from UC, to the city of Davis to the state of CA has the same exact problem.  The problem is that 1. Generous pensions were promised, 2. People are living longer and 3. Health Care keeps outpacing inflation.

          I have a lot of younger friends that work at both UC and in Public Safety that don’t want to talk about the fact that if we keep going with the investment returns we are getting now and people don’t start dying a lot younger or the price of healthcare does not start starts going down there is no way they will get a six figure pension and paid health care from retirement until they die.


        4. Cindy Pickett

          In October, Chancellor May announced that UCOP is convening an advisory group to examine the sustainability of providing retiree health benefits. I suspect that we’ll see some significant changes to the program.

          From Chancellor May: “UC’s commitment to these benefits has not wavered, but the financial stability of the program is at risk. The current and projected cost increases of UC’s health benefits for retirees are greater than inflation – and growing faster than the university’s budget. This is unsustainable.”

      1. Ken A

        It is important to remember that just like all “conservatives” don’t vote the same all “progressives” don’t vote the same.

        I was very involved with campus politics almost 40 years ago and kids with both right and left leaning political views tended to support both increasing fees for capital projects to improve the school and taxes/bond measures for capital projects to improve the city IF (big if) they planned to stay involved with the school after graduation or planned to stay in the city after graduation.

        Even the most “progressive” kids were not very likely to support fee increases and tax increases if the projects would not be finished until after they graduated and they never planned to come back.

        P.S. I have talked to some of the “proud YIMBY” kids and they have figured out that every time the residents of Davis vote to block housing development it increases the equity for almost every property owner in town and allows the owners who rent apartments, rooms and converted garages to raise rents (just like owners do every time the demand increases when the supply stays the same)…

  2. Tia Will

    One point stands out for me. The position of Chancellor is an administrative position. For this to be 400k + with perks is egregious. Would adjusting chancellor’s salaries to a more appropriate amount fix the problem of ever increasing tuition at what should be a student debt free institution ?  Absolutely not. But it would certainly be a good faith measure for students, parents and taxpayers.

      1. Howard P

        Yes, but also drill deeper into the narrative you gave… one of the big factors is also the “subsidy” paid by some students, for those who pay far less or no tuition.

        The Admin is over-compensated, to be sure… but that is just a piece of the pie.

        1. Keith O

          Exactly as shown by little tidbit in the article:

          Systemwide, 100,000 UC students of limited means will actually see about $100 increase in aid due to the tuition increase

        2. David Greenwald

          Howard: It’s true, but the other part of that is you end up hurting the middle class students with a small benefit to the lower class and a big benefit to the wealthy administrators.

    1. Ken A

      I’m wondering if Tia can tell how much she thinks the UCD Chancellor should be paid if $400K is “egregious”?

      If the chancellor donated his entire salary back to the UCD student body to lower tuition every kid would save about $1 per month.

      P.S. While I don’t think the Chancellor pay is “egregious”,  I do think that there are hundreds of positions at UCD that could be eliminated to lower the tuition…

  3. Ron

    From article:  “Out-of-state students would pay an additional $978 in tuition, bringing their total to $28,992.”

    From website below:  Non-resident tuition and fees:  $42,400.52

    Reason for difference? Also, is there a similar difference for resident students (compared to what’s quoted in the article)?

    (Don’t have time to research it, today.) But, it appears that the “total” may not include base tuition costs.

    1. Howard P

      The tuition rates cited don’t take into account:  tuition waivers, taxpayer or private scholarships, etc.  Which have to be made up with higher tuition or greater taxes, in the main…

      UC folk are often much more over-compensated than most would like to admit.  UC had a ‘pension holiday’ for several years where neither UC or the professors/staff paid one cent for retirement or PERB.

      That chicken has come home to roost, but UC will not acknowledge that.


    2. Howard P


      Parsing is everything…

       “Out-of-state students would pay an additional $978 in tuition, bringing their total to $28,992.”

      The number of $28,992 is the increment above in-state tuition… that was not clear here, clearer in the DE account.  I can clearly see why it was confusing… I was scratching my head too, until I read the DE piece.

      1. Ron

        Well, now I am confused.

        Proposed non-resident tuition (per article):  $12,972 + $28,992 = $41,964.

        Current non-resident tuition:  $42,400.52 (per website, above).

        1. Ron

          I guess there’s fees that are not accounted for, in the article. (I could probably add them up from that website, to see what the total non-resident tuition and fees would be.)

          In any case, it’s no wonder that UC is pursuing those full-tuition students. It’s primarily about the $$.

        2. Ron

          Yeah, that appears to be the difference.  About $2,884 in extra fees, not including another $210 plus $150 (which appear to be one-time fees).

          So, if the fees stay the same, it should be about the following for non-resident students, based upon the proposed tuition increase:

          $12,972 (regular tuition) + $28,992 (non-resident tuition) + $2,884 (ongoing fees) + $210 (one-time) + $150 (one-time).

          For a grand total of (hang-on-to-your-hat) $45,208 for non-resident students.

          (Hopefully, they won’t also need to purchase the health insurance offered on the website, or other options such as rust-proofing, extended warranty, etc.) 🙂

        3. Ron

          Strange, though.  The article above describes tuition and fees together (for residents), then describes only tuition (regarding the non-resident tuition).

          Oh, well.  Will see if anyone else wants to take a stab at this.  Got other stuff to do. In any case, it appears that I’m in the ballpark, based upon the information provided.

  4. John Hobbs

    As it happens, my friend and saxophonist is visiting from Norway. He and I often observe the difference in the “Quality of life” between our two nations. He is enjoying our vast freeway system and the availability of products in our stores, especially the produce aisle at The Nugget, but he notices how downcast so many of us look, especially the college aged kids. He understands a little better after my son explained the time and expense involved in getting his BS from a state university. He was most astounded by the student loan payments my son is still making more than a decade after graduating.

    Free higher education and health care have been the norm for him and his family. He thinks those are a big part of why Norwegians are the happiest nation on earth.

  5. Keith O

    And yes, Norway is one of the most heavily taxed countries in the world with a total tax burden of roughly 45% of GDP– almost 4x Hong Kong and nearly twice the US.
    VAT here is a whopping 25%.Personal income tax ratesborder 55%. Corporate profits tax ranges from 28% to as high as 78%. Norway even has a direct WEALTH TAX.
    This place is about as socialist as it gets.

    Hardly free…….


  6. Eileen Samitz

    I completely sympathize with the UCD students about how UC is being totally opportunistic and charging the students far too much for tuition. On top of that, the campus is completely overcrowded since UCD keeps adding moe and more students to add revenue to their coffers, yet the students cannot even get into the classes they need to graduate in four years. This delays their graduation and forces them to have to pay for additional quarters(s) costing them even more for their degree. This backs up the system even more, with even less room in the classrooms, plus it backs up the students housing availability because the students cannot graduate to move on to jobs.  So UC and UCD are totally taking advantage of the UCD students and exasperating the already over-crowded campus while also over-charging the students for tuition.

    But what I don’t understand is since the students are coming to the Council and Commission meetings advocating for more housing in the City, why were they not also advocating for UC and UCD to provide more student housing as well at this rally?

    1. David Greenwald

      “But what I don’t understand is since the students are coming to the Council and Commission meetings advocating for more housing in the City, why were they not also advocating for UC and UCD to provide more student housing as well at this rally?”

      For one thing, different students. For another, they did call for the university to provide more affordable housing.

  7. Eileen Samitz


    It is not clear what you are saying. Who is “they” who called the university? If the same students for this rally called UCD about student housing, why not also protest about the need for more affordable on-campus housing?

    Or else, why not a separate rally for more affordable student housing on-campus by the students coming to the City Council and Commission meetings asking for more student housing in the City?

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