Why all the drama over UC fee increases?

This blog is directed toward people with no first-hand knowledge of the California college and university education system. That would be all of us who attended school out of state, and do not have children in the system now or will not be in the system in the next decade or so (which is why we haven’t looked too deeply into UC education costs).

You will have noticed in this blog that we view education as the foundation of civilization (paraphrasing somewhat). According to news reports and other commentary, recent, continuing increases in the fees associated with higher education at the various California systems will squeeze people out of class and degree programs. Around the state, students have been protesting, most recently at San Francisco State University, where this morning a handful of activists were removed from premises they seized. The SFGate article noted order was restored in time for classes to start without delay. Earlier last Fall, similar respect for the importance of making education available to the determined was demonstrated when law school students (UCLA, I believe) negotiated with their professors to reschedule class so the students could protest and attend lecture.

Before tonight, I had no idea what it costs to attend California colleges and universities. I always had the impression they were quite reasonable, in real and comparative terms. Plus, in the news, the fuss seemed to be about fees. At my Midwest university, fees were $150 per semester to cover handouts, locker maintenance, and whiteboard markers. Tuition killed you. A 25% increase in fees would be annoying but not enough to kick anybody to the curb.

Well, for in-state students, California does not charge tuition. It charges fees. That’s why a 25% hike is material to the students and the people paying those fee invoices. That’s why people are being kicked to the curb, where there aren’t any jobs that might fund the hiked fees. That’s why people are protesting. We should cheer them on, maybe join them. And we should think about taxes in support of accessible, affordable higher education, proposed a few blogs back.

2009/2010 annual fees for California State universities, such as San Francisco State University, are $4,026 for undergraduates. Additional fees apply, which vary by campus. These costs are a 27% increase over the prior school year. Check out fees, i.e., tuition, per campus here. LLII.

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